First Mind by Nick Mulvey

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I first saw Nick Mulvey supporting Laura Marling on her 2013 tour at Sage Gateshead. I believe I missed maybe the first 2/3 songs but I still saw enough to gather a strong opinion. He is an extremely well accomplished musician, his guitar playing something many aspiring guitarists should check out. His performance at Sage was only a solo set but I’m glad to say the album features fuller arrangements of the songs.

On first listening to the album I was not immediately grabbed; not repulsed either. So I listened to the album in full a few times. It many listens to find my feet with this album. On the surface the album feels bland and unadventurous, with all the songs bleeding into one another. The songs being in very similar keys, with a similar line up, vocal range don’t help this and the production blends the vocal to neatly into the mix, instead of pushing the melody on to the listener.

But these negatives only really come into light when listening to the album passively. When listened to properly, this album has some really nice qualities; the beats, orchestration and virtuoso guitar skills (as previously mentioned).

‘Juramidam’ has an awesome groove which reminds me of Fink’s first album, ‘Biscuits for Breakfast’, the vocals and guitar feels a bit out of place with each other until 2mins 20 into the track then it starts to fall into shape. ‘Cucurucu’ has a strange and sparse intro, which stretches your ability to resist instant gratification but is very satisfying after the 2nd verse. ‘Nitrous’ has a really nice nod to Olive’s ‘You’re Not Alone’ (the 90’s clubbers know what I’m talking about), which solidifies the idea of this being an ‘after-the-club’ album. ‘The World to Me’ has some intensely complex/irrational rhythms, which makes this a challenging song to listen to. The rhythms push and pull to the extent that he appears to be playing out of time but always coming neatly back to the beat.

I hope with continued immersive listening I’ll be able to appreciate this album in the same way as other ‘growing’ albums such as John Martyn’s ‘One World’ or Laura Marling’s ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’, which are now both firm favourites now. This could make for a great summer album.

Reviewer: Chris Whiting

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