Album Reviews

Nick Mulvey – New Mythology

(Fiction) UK release date: 10 June 2022

Third album from former Portico man finds him taking a confident, expressive step forward

Nick Mulvey - New Mythology Three albums in and Nick Mulvey is getting philosophical: the one-time Portico Quartet member is getting his feet firmly under the table as a solo artist, and New Mythology finds him taking a confident, expressive step forward.

He does this with music that stands for positivity but comes from vulnerability and experience, qualities that will surely resonate with listeners in these uncertain times. Mulvey’s is a genuine voice, sat directly opposite his audience and singing to them through compositions that on first listen are deceptively slight.

These first-hand accounts of relationships, beliefs, literary encounters and environmental concerns have real substance, however, and his music keeps a peace and poise that wouldn’t have been out of place in California in the mid-1960s. Shores Of Mona finds just the right balance, its darker elements – “out of my dreams there came a warning, three times she called to me” – finding a peaceful resolution in the music.

Lyrically he often hits the target. “Being a brother to you wasn’t easy for me,” he admits on Brother To You, confessing “I ran and took for granted you’d be there.” A Prayer Of My Own starts the album thoughtfully, blossoming to something approaching euphoria. “Can we bear the unbearable?” he asks, examining his soul before determining that “I do it for my own, my little boy, my little girl, and we do it for our home”. Domestic anthems such as this are in surprisingly short supply, but in one song Mulvey nails a key element of human existence.

The music is carefully and attractively scored, realised with producer and Manu Chao collaborator Renaud Letang. He oversees the gently mesmeric loops of Sea Inside (Third Way) and Another Way To Be, songs that are both soothing and energising, recalling as they evolve the best moments from previous album Wake Up Now. Mulvey’s subtle tinkering with audio perspectives are also reminiscent of older material, tampering with slight echo effects on Star Nation or introducing woozy, questioning electronica on The Gift. As the album progresses a sense of community lingers, found in the swell of a chorus or the murmured repetition of a mantra. Thankfully the cringe factor of ‘friend chips by the fire’ is avoided in favour of music with lasting appeal.

Also included on New Mythology is a very fine cover of Wild Beasts’ Mecca. One can miss the versatility of Mulvey’s voice at times, but the way he sings the lines “we move in fear, we move in desire, now I know how you feel” shows what an effective communicator he can be. The music pulses and crackles with atmosphere, and while the vocals rarely get to a loud dynamic his expressive turn of phrase more than compensates.

New Mythology, then, is a fine achievement, completing the rare balancing act of making conscious pop music without coming across as a budget Sting imitator. Nick Mulvey is going from strength to strength, as his growing band of followers testify, and now is a good time to join him for the ride – you will certainly leave this album with a positive outlook on life.

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More on Nick Mulvey
Nick Mulvey – New Mythology
Nick Mulvey interview: “We’re touching the miracle of things”
Nick Mulvey – Wake Up Now
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Festival Preview: Cambridge Folk Festival 2015