thu 24/06/2021

CD: Nick Mulvey - Wake Up Now | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Nick Mulvey - Wake Up Now

CD: Nick Mulvey - Wake Up Now

Second stunning album from wide-eyed, thoughtful, spiritually-inclined singer-songwriter

Nick Mulvey’s 2014 debut album First Mind may be one of the century’s best so far. Album number two, then, has the critical bar set high. On that opening record, the ex-Portico Quartet singer-songwriter majored in complex-yet-simple songs that wove intricate Latin/classical-flecked guitar work with electronic tones and a sense of wide-eyed openness. Wake Up Now initially seems to be travelling a similar path, but soon proves to be marinated in African feeling and have its scope set more cosmically. It is a lovely album and a match for its predecessor.

In a cynical age, where irony is king, Nick Mulvey is a man out of time. Perhaps he’s the harbinger of a more beautiful era around the corner. In 2017, after all, even the word “beauty” is regarded with wariness. Imbued with the spiritual philosophies of Ram Dass, a surviving key player from the last age of peace’n’love, Mulvey’s music has an unfettered grace. He applies this to the plight of refugees on “Myela” and “We Are Never Apart”. The latter is a twinkling, gorgeous strum that seems to be floating in orbit, while the former may be held up as evidence for those who find Mulvey’s work cloying. Its Afro-pop “I am your neighbour/You are my neighbour” chorus will certainly be too nursery rhyme trite for many.

Much of the album, however, is inarguable. The intriguing lyrics of songs such as “Transform Your Game”, which boasts chunkier percussion than Mulvey usually goes for, are matched by a subtle musicality that’s both featherlight and delicious. The gentle, jazzy, almost ecclesiastical “When the Body Is Gone” is a song that sticks up two fingers to existential angst, even death itself, while the epic sing-along “Mountain to Move” achieves anthem status. There are moments when Mulvey faintly recalls Peter Gabriel at his most ecstatic but, other than that, there are no comparisons. He’s a man alone, pushing at the forefront with unembarrassed joy and longing. I want to go with him.

Overleaf: Watch the video for "Myela" by Nick Mulvey

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