ALBUM REVIEW: Nick Mulvey ‘First Mind’

Former Portico Quartet percussionist, Nick Mulvey presents his dreamy solo debut ‘First Mind’. Saturated with flourishing melodies and intertwining guitars, the ex hang drummer proves that six strings are his calling.

Having spent time studying music and art in Havana, Cuba, Mulvey’s exquisite fretwork shows a true dedication to his craft. There is almost camaraderie between his soft vocal tones and the obvious influence of traditional Cuban rhythms and sounds that run through this brilliant debut effort.

The album opens with self-titled ‘First Mind’. Simple Spanish-like plucking and gradual synth hums give real warmth to the song; it is an intriguing opener. More rhythmic ‘Fever To The Form’ will sell well if released as a single. What sounds like ukulele is actually Mulvey’s multifunctional playing on a classic guitar. Through a single instrument he adds rhythm and bass without the use of the primary instruments themselves. Developing layers creep up on you and before you know it, you are surrounded with multiple strata’s of upbeat guitar.

Mulvey’s soft crooning vocals seem to settle right into your subconscious in ‘April’. The song exemplifies Mulvey’s joint prowess for both the spoken art form and the painted one. Vivid storytelling gets you wrapped up in the narrative, and a beautiful picture is painted about the change in the seasons, through the metaphor of a women.

With all of the current singer songwriters that follow the folk genre, you might expect a newcomer like Mulvey to conform to the general guidelines. I hope that as his following grows (which it will) he stays true to himself and his music.

A true percussionist, Mulvey gets your feet tapping in ‘Juramidam’, although there is a lack of percussion on the album as a whole that seems to show he has moved on from his days on the hang drum. However, beats of a different kind are still present through his rhythmic guitar playing.

‘Cucurucu’ is an ode to DH Lawrence’s’ poem ‘Piano’ and it is sung with such intensity; Mulvey tells the story as if it were his own. A raw and untamed standout song on the record, dense layers of strings, brass and rhythmic strumming heighten Mulvey’s gentle story-telling. Again he gives listeners a truly visual aural experience. Ben Howard and Half Moon Run are present influentially.

‘First Mind’ is a beautiful introduction into Mulvey as an artist. There is a certain poise and maturity from this album that is wonderfully refreshing. The unprocessed, yet perfected narrative of each song is a sure sign that craftsmanship was high on Mulvey’s agenda when constructing this record. He has spent a lot of time getting his sound just right, and as listeners, we can truly say he has mastered it.

Natasha Moran

Tash Moran

Tash Moran

Leicester based writer and photographer