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I love writing this piece each issue because it gives me a chance to share an artist I’ve usually become obsessed with or I really think deserves to do well. Obviously the two are not mutually exclusive. This week I think you need to know Nick Mulvey, an English musician with a less than English sound that is notoriously difficult to label.
He is already Mercury nominated with his old jazz band Portico Quartet in which he played the relatively modern invention of the hang, a kind of Swiss steel drum. Nick Mulvey is now pursuing a solo career with the release of his debut full length album due May 12th, the result of three years work. The Cambridge-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has worked tirelessly to get where he is at today. Mulvey went to study music in Havana, Cuba aged 19 under the watchful eye of his Congolese and Cuban guitar tutors. Their teaching was formal and intense but the nights were spent jamming and socialising with students from all around the world. Returning to the UK he gained a degree in music from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London taking a particular interest in West African culture. This plethora of diverse influences are not so much interwoven into the record as much they are generously adorning every single beat. It is unashamedly a collection of his experiences. Not a minute goes by without his impassioned education coming to fruition.
But it’s not the songs that have been taught: it’s the knowledge of these influencing cultures he has gained, the respect for his heroes he studied, the technical ability to play the songs but certainly not how to compose or manufacture them. The new album’s title, First Mind, confirms this approach with Mulvey explaining he feels the music he plays instinctively more than anything else. The tracklist includes singles Nitrous, Fever To Form, Cucurucu and Meet Me There, promising to be one of those warm, comforting albums you can soundtrack those more chilled out moments to. Don’t get me wrong, the troubadour has his more energetic moments and rousing bridges but in the most part his delicately soothing and almost whispered voice is complemented by the poetic lyrics he professes: “The only way to hold on is to keep letting go”. Add to that his relaxed Latin-style guitar playing and smooth jazz percussion, what more could you ask for? I can’t remember the last time I’ve look forward to a new album so much. It won’t be to everyone’s taste but it will certainly hit the mark with a lot of alternative music fans.