JPR Live Session: Paul Cauthen
“I’m a singer not a preacher, but these songs are my sermon,” says Paul Cauthen. “We’re ripping each other apart out there, and forgiveness and mercy are what’s going to get us through. I want to use my voice the best I can to spread that message while I’m here on this Earth.” Somewhere between an EP and an album, Cauthen’s new seven-track collection, Have Mercy, is a showcase of the pure power of truth and love. Building off the success of My Gospel, the Texas troubadour’s breakout debut, Have Mercy pushes Cauthen’s songwriting to new heights as he searches for common ground and peace of mind in an increasingly polarized world.Fueled by nearly two straight years of personal and artistic growth on the road, the songs reflect a newfound maturity and creative self-assurance. Cauthen’s rich, velvety baritone is still very much the centerpiece here, but it’s the craftsmanship that dazzles more than anything. ‘Have Mercy’ is the work of an artist who’s turned his life over to the music, body and soul, and the rewards for his devotion are undeniably on display throughout the record.
While he’d already earned a reputation as a fierce and fiery frontman from his days in the critically acclaimed band Sons of Fathers, it wasn’t until the 2016 release of My Gospel that Cauthen truly tapped into the full depth of his prodigious talents. Rolling Stone called the album “a triple-barreled blast of Texas country, soul and holy-roller rockabilly delivered by a big-voiced crooner,” while Vice Noisey dubbed it “a somber reminder of how lucky we are to be alive,” and Texas Monthly raved that Cauthen “sound[s] like the Highwaymen all rolled into one: he’s got Willie’s phrasing, Johnny’s haggard quiver, Kristofferson’s knack for storytelling, and Waylon’s baritone.” The album landed on a slew of Best Of lists at the year’s end and earned Cauthen dates with Elle King, Margo Price, Billy Joe Shaver, and Cody Jinks along with festival appearances from Austin City Limits and Pickathon to Stagecoach and Tumbleweed.