The modern-singer songwriter is a breed that, on the whole, can be thrown into a few easily identifiable boxes. There are those that think they live on a 19th century English farm, there are the ones that sing with glistening eyes about drippy romance or being dumped, and there are the hopeless dreamers. Most, I’m afraid to say, inhabit a rather contrived place, producing what they think people think is emotional or idealistic. It’s very rare to find someone that a cynical bastard like me can listen to without continual eye rolling, and a good deal of sighing. Nick Mulvey is a singer-songwriter, but he doesn’t think he’s in a Thomas Hardy novel, nor does he moan about his ex-girlfriend. He does dream, but you’ll be right there with him - every step of the way.
Mulvey’s music orbits around his nylon stringed guitar, which picks and strums through cyclically rhythmic and hypnotic songs. Over this he sings and hums his way through, with a voice that’s as instantly transportive and mellow inducing a voice as I’ve almost ever heard. It’s the sort of heart swelling rumble, and tribal repetition, that you’d find in traditional African songs. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but his songs always create images of fire-lit scenes around which magical ritualistic things happen. I felt really pleased when I read that he studied music in Havana, Cuba - where he would play music and drink rum into the night. I was even more pleased to find out that when he returned to London he studied West and Central African music. Bingo.
Mulvey hits a few stratospheric moments on the record, and there isn’t a better example that the pulsating Fever To The Form. A simple strumming pattern that doesn't stop throughout the whole four-and-a-bit minutes of the song is built into an almost crazed crescendo. Cucurucu is an intensely visual song, that takes you through a sentimental story of family and pride. About half way through the album is Take Me There, a song that displays Mulveys virtuosic guitar playing, and his ability to de-pong a song that would, if delivered by almost anyone else, be a fairly cheesy affair. It’s absolutely brilliant. Towards the end of the album is I Don’t Want To Go Home. It’s a song about love, and places Mulvey in a moment of complete exposure.
First Mind is a bit like an ayahuasca trip, with Mulvey as a shamanic leader. I’m rarely as enthusiastic as I am about this record, and we’re damn lucky to have a man coming out and wandering off the now-tarmac’d road and creating something which takes you somewhere unfamiliar.