The crowd poured into the Lemon Grove last Monday 2nd October, excited to relax, grab a drink and be soothed by the mellow tones of Nick Mulvey after the usual Monday madness. It was great to see not only a massive turnout but a crowd drawn from across a wide age range; it was in no way limited to students, and was quite frankly refreshing to see the wider community enjoying Mulvey’s sound in what is generally seen to be a very student-y space.
It’s easy to see why Mulvey appeals to such a wide audience: his smooth tone, meaningful lyrics and exotic-folk sound is a combination hard not to love. His concert focused on tracks from his new album “Wake Up Now”, including “Unconditional”, “Myela” and “Imogen”; however, he did scatter a few classics into the mix here and there from his debut album “First Mind”, such as “Cucurucu” and “Fever to the Form”, which revitalised the crowd and kept us all singing along. He ended the night with what has to be my favourite song from his new album, “Mountain to Move”. If you’ve not heard it yet, it’s one of his more up-beat tracks that encourages us to “wake up now”, a phrase that’s echoed throughout the song, and seemed quite apt looking around at the sleepy faces in the audience. Mulvey did seem to have that unavoidable effect on us: he simultaneously awakened our minds through his thought-provoking lyrics whilst lulling us into a sleepy state through his relaxing sounds. His sound worked particularly well live, and was pleasantly complemented by the voices of his backing singers, something that was quite different to the sound produced in his first album which focused on a solo voice.
His sound is particularly unique in that it contains influences from around the world, and thus has a more ‘exotic’ sound than usual folk music. One of the most impressive aspects about his music on the night was watching Mulvey’s masterful and almost hypnotic control over his guitar; it was hard to look away. Mulvey also approaches serious world-issues through his music, such as is the case in “Myela”, a track on his new album “Wake Up Now”. This second album came to be at the same time he and his wife were expecting the arrival of their son. He has previously said that this experience gave him an urge to take care of their surroundings “I began to feel a new responsibility towards the world we are creating, the world in which my son will grow up. I knew it would be impossible for me to write a batch of new songs that weren’t useful, that didn’t speak in some way to what’s happening in the world.” During the concert, Mulvey spoke about how he was deeply touched by the refugee crisis in the EU and wanted to explore it through his music in a sensitive way. In a previous interview he says: “we felt unworthy to write poetry about this subject. Exploring first-hand accounts of refugee journeys, we wanted to give them voice. To share with people who listen to my music, to make them aware the situation continues.”
After watching him live, it is evident that Nick Mulvey is an artist who has mastered his own unique sound. He is a breath of fresh air in an industry focused on generating pop sounds that will appeal to the masses, rather than on crafting music. Although there undoubtedly are pop elements in lots of Mulvey’s songs, he stays true to his sound and crafts these elements into his folk and world-music style. Mulvey is thus a true artist in my eyes: he doesn’t just sing about emotion, but he inspires emotion, something not your everyday “charts” artist can do.
Top Tip: If you’re a new fan, I would recommend listening to “Cucurucu” right now; with its catchy tune and reassuring, universal lyrics that we’re all just “yearning to belong”, you will not be disappointed!
– Laura Leichtfried