Doug Williams
When Mercy Found Me

Doug Williams’ long awaited sophomore solo project is more than worth the wait (8 years since his Grammy-nominated smash 1995 solo debut, Heartsongs).

When Mercy Found Me is a generous 18 tracks in length, and features guests such as Kelly Price, Kim McFarland and DJ Rogers. Combine that with gorgeous songwriting from Williams, Pharis Evans Jr. and others, and you have yourself a certified winner.

CD Every song is a winner here. (Sometimes clichés are to be avoided, but there are times, like this, when they must be used because it is true.)

Of the mountain of hits, a standouts is “What’s Wrong With Right” from the pen of Stan Jones, a slow-building balladic masterpiece that decries the sorry state of the world, with Jones, Melvin Williams and the EnPraise Singers providing plenty of vocal support.

Missing the song with Kelly Price is impossible. “Because of You” is an inspirational duet that hinges on Price’s tender, sometimes soaring, soulful vocals that intertwine with Williams’ own signature sound. Maulty Jewell IV’s puts in yeoman’s work on the simmering strings and keyboard instrumentals, with Sharntell Smith & Young Saints on backing vocals.

Mid-album, Williams offers up an old-school, traditional tribute to his father (Pop Williams), consisting of four full-length songs. These include the brass-enhanced title track, the smooth, near-blues “The Patience of God”, a new version of “Mary Did You Know” (written by Melvin William) and the pounding drive “I Pray” that brings in Rev. L.W. Bolton of The Bolton Brothers (and has radio hit ALL over it.)

Doug Williams
CD Doug Williams' first solo project, Heartsongs, featured duets with Yolanda Adams, Joe Ligon, John P. Kee, Duraneice Pace and Paul Porter, and spawned the massive hit, "Living Testimony" (with Ligon). As a member of the famous Williams Brothers, Doug along with brother Melvin Williams and Henry Green comprise one of Gospel's most popular traditional 'quartets'.

The Williams Brothers are also businessmen, owning Blackberry Records and with a roster that also includes Neil Roberson, The Texas Boyz, The Bolton Brothers and True Believers.
Doug Williams continues to demonstrate his ability to fit just as easily into a contemporary setting, such as on “Prosperity Song” for example. With a percolating, bass-intense track courtesy Joey Woolfalk, Maurice Fitzgerald, Evans, Jewell and with brother Melvin Williams and rising phenom Bridgette Campbell on backing vocals, the song hits hard as Doug rides his voice all over it.

The song “Constantly’ makes a quick comeback, only a couple of years after creating a stir as the title track on Rev. Clay Evans & AARC’s project of the same title. This time it’s the renowned singer / songwriter DJ Rogers who steps into the soulful vocal role along with Williams on this Pharis Evans Jr. song.

The familiar voice of Kim McFarland is welcomed back into the fold on “Everytime”, a mid-tempo contemporary Gospel number that grooves. Saints With A Vision is delicately in the background as McFarland and Williams work a wonder that tells of God’s unending faithfulness. The song then works up into an intense vamp to close out the song.

That’s far from all the highlights on this album. There’s lots more (“Overwhelmed”, “Stand By Me”, “Hold Me”).

We’ll say it again, When Mercy Found Me has so much going for it that it is a little bit overwhelming. Rich in song and glorious in sound, it is a genius work, a masterpiece, and work of obvious love and dedication.

Let there be no doubt, Doug Williams has done it again.

Producers: Doug Williams, Pharis Evans Jr., Stan Jones, Derrick Horne
album release date: January 12, 2002
Blackberry Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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