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Peter Mulvey


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk, folk/rock

Status:

Most recent release, Silver Ladder (2014)

See also:

Peter Mulvey's site

Peter Mulvey also performs in Redbird with Jeffrey Foucault and Kris Delmhorst

Comparisons:

Hugh Blumenfeld (Sherlyn.Koo)

Covers/own material:

Mainly own material

General Comments:

Peter Mulvey is an acoustic musician with a difference. From the opening bars of his debut CD you can feel it—there's something special here. It's not the trick he uses with his bottom guitar string, de-tuning it so that all you hear is a resonant steely buzz. It's not the bass-heavy groove. It's not the lyrics he writes, that can soothe your soul or pack enough punch to stop you dead in your tracks. It's all this and more, much more.... It's obvious Mulvey a honed performer, not surprising since he once studied drama and more recently cut his teeth busking in the Boston subway. And what teeth they are! One of my favourite recent "discoveries". (Sherlyn.Koo>

An excellent male artist—his description in concert was "Ani DiFranco on valium" and that works pretty well...good folk-rock music, with a strong, smooth voice, and great guitar work. (Eric_Starker)

He's just an amazing guitarist. (meth@smoe.org)

Comments about live performance:

Peter Mulvey did a very short set interspersed with really random and hilarious between-song banter. I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. He's a really good guitar player, and has a nice voice. (10/97, meth@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

Rapture

Recordings:

  • Brother Rabbit Speaks (1992)
  • Rain (1994)
  • Rapture (1995)
  • Deep Blue (1997)
  • Glencree (1998)
  • The Trouble With Poets (2000)
  • Ten Thousand Mornings (2002)
  • Redbird (2003)
  • Kitchen Radio (2004)
  • The Knuckleball Suite (1006)
  • Notes From Elsewhere (2007)
  • Letters from a Flying Machine (2010)
  • Nine Days Wonder (with David Goodrich, 2011)
  • The Good Stuff (2012)
  • Chaser (EP, 2012)
  • Silver Ladder (2014)

Rapture

Release info:

1995—Eastern Front Records—EFR 109

Availability:

Available in the U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for contemporary folk fans

Group members:

Peter Mulvey—vocals, six-string guitar, twelve-string guitar

Guest artists:

Jack Nicholas Cannon—bass guitar, mandocello
David "Goody" Goodrich—electric guitar, lap steel, mandolin, dobro
Amy Hartmann—vocals
Jennifer Kimball—vocals
Pamela Means—vocals
Mike Piehl—percussion

Produced by:

Ducky Carlisle, Jack Nicholas Cannon, David "Goody" Goodrich, Peter Mulvey, Mike Piehl, Rob Swalley, Jerry Potts, Amy Hartmann, Jennifer Kimball, Pamela Means

Comments:

"Rapture" is pretty ambitious for a debut CD, combining as it does such disparate elements such as rock, folk, groove, instrumental, and even a spoken word track and a "radio play for voice and guitar". Yet it all fits together quite neatly. Underlying it all is a deep bass groove which pushes the whole album forward with a delicious inevitability (and also blew out one of my car speakers, but I think that was a worthwhile sacrifice). It's not just the groove though—another important thread is Mulvey's exceptional songwriting. I don't know how he does it, but he always seems to find some new twist or turn of phrase to put everything in a new light, or to put some bright image into your mind that you won't be able to get rid of for days.
     For me, there are many startling moments on this album, not just musically but lyrically as well. From the astonishing imagery and profound truth of the title track to the incredibly driven "Smell the Future" (about the Los Angeles race riots), to the way my heart always skips a beat when Mulvey switches from speaking to singing in "The Dreams"...I couldn't even begin to describe them all. Another highlight is a step back to Mulvey's past, with a live version of the classic "The Whole of the Moon" recorded in the Boston subway. Halfway through the song, you can hear a train pulling in to the platform. A moment later, Mulvey pauses to thank a woman who's just dropped some money in his case. As the song ends, you can hear the high-pitched whine as the train pulls out again. It's powerful stuff.
   "Rapture" is an amazing album which provokes reaction on so many levels—emotional, musical and visceral. Undoubtedly this is one of the best debut albums of all time. I cannot recommend it highly enough. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Deep Blue

Release info:

1997—Eastern Front Records—EFR-CD-112

Availability:

Available in the U.S.

Ecto priority:

If you liked Rapture you will probably like this.

Group members:

Peter Mulvey—voice, six-string guitar, twelve-string guitar, high-strung guitar

Guest artists:

David "Goody" Goodrich—electric guitar, mandolin, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, national guitar, keyboards
Mike Piehl—percussion
Jackson Cannon—upright bass
Kris Delmhorst—cello
Tony Levin—electric bass
Elizabeth London—vocals

Produced by:

Nicholas Sansano

Comments:

Deep Blue, as the name would suggest, has a much darker tone than Mulvey's debut album Rapture. Although the basic elements remain the same—Mulvey's songwriting skill and the deep bass section beneath it all—producer Nicholas Sansano has smoothed over a lot of the rougher edges, giving an album that is overall far more polished than the previous. The songs also are different, focusing less on hope and love and more on the darker side of life. It's another fairly ambitious effort from Mulvey, with the most ambitious track of all being "Birgit", in which Mulvey and Elizabeth London read the lyrics simultaneously with the vocals fading in and out between the two, giving a highly eerie effect. Other excellent tracks include the opening track "Grace", "Out Here" and "Midwife", probably the most lyrically capturing of all the songs on the album.
     Overall, I would say that Deep Blue is a good album, however the smoother edges also provide the ear less to grab on to. The songwriting also doesn't seem quite up to the standard of the previous album. I liked it, but I like Rapture far better. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Further info:

There is a mailing list devoted to discussion of the music of Peter Mulvey. To subscribe to deep-blue, send the following command in the body of an email message to majordomo@smoe.org: subscribe deep-blue (replace "" with your real address, minus the quotes and brackets). Or for the digest version, send the following command instead: subscribe deep-blue-digest . For more information, send this command to majordomo@smoe.org: info deep-blue.


Thanks to Sherlyn Koo for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2016-06-04 23:06:37.
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