The cover of the Wil Merrell song Free.


While working on his forthcoming album Bring on the Dark, D.C.-based Americana and soul singer Wil Merrell was having a discussion with his younger brother, The War and Treaty’s Michael Trotter. “I told him some of the messages and some of the things I wanted to deal with in the record,” says Merrell. “He asked me to verbalize to him my story. So I did and it was literally the next day he said, ‘Come upstairs, I want you to hear something.’” That something became “Free,” a rollicking roots rock song with lyrics including “They just want us all afraid / Saw them beatin’ down that man named George / But we just can’t take it no more, no.” For Merrell, having a song that speaks to current events is natural, since he’s been molded by past artists who have done the same. “Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Nina Simone, they’re all influences of mine,” Merrell explains. “Looking at the times that we’re in, what makes the song so relevant is there’s a freedom cry in the world right now.” But Merrell makes it clear that this song is a wide-ranging cry. “Black people have a freedom cry just like other groups of people with other ethnicities have a freedom cry from other things,” says Merrell. “There is that commonality that we all have something we want to be free from.” The song is available on Spotify, YouTube, and other streaming services. Free.