Retrospective Album: Nick Mulvey – Wake Up Now

As we start a 4 month hiatus from new music and bring back the clock to albums that we personally love but have slipped by the other brothers on ThisIsNotHappening; I predict that the rest of you will find that picking something that nobody has but you’ll hang your hat on is a hard task. This month I’ve gone for a recent favourite in our house, Nick Mulvey’s “Wake Up Now”.

Nick Mulvey has a special place in my world. His first album had just been released in 2014 when Hayley and I first got together and his music was the soundtrack to many of our early memories. His first album came with a fair bit of accolade and had medium commercial success. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him numerous times and with each time the crowds got bigger. His sound is along the lines of folk he has the ability to connect with people (especially live) and has built a dedicated fan base around the UK and the globe with his gigs routinely selling out.

In the September of 2017 he released his second album “Wake Up Now”. As for many of us allot can change in 3 years. Both internally and externally. I think we can all agree the world had changed a fair bit between 2014-2017 and his lyrics had become more reflective of world humanity and environmental issues. He also had his first child. All of us being fathers on this blog can agree that this impacts everything in your life; especially how we see the world that we now need to guide our children through.

I have read a few articles how Nick Mulvey is a very spiritual person which is very evident on this album. There are some pretty deep thoughts translated throughout  his songs. This mixed with his worldly view it is very evident that this album has a message; wake up now. Wake up to how we’re treating fellow humans and the planet we live on. Not many people are doing this these days it seems. Even Bob Geldof and Bono seemed to have piped down as of late. I like that Nick is doing this. 

When I first approached this album I was excited; but hesitant. I wasn’t fully ready for his message. The song that gripped me was “Imogen”. My daughter was in her first year and many of the lyrics hit straight to the bone. They still do every time is listen to it. 

Throughout the album there is a natural progression he has taken from his first album. The songs are more complex and layered. Many have been written to be played out live. I recently saw him perform this without his band. Just a man and a guitar and it was amazing. 

Why do I like Nick Mulvey and why did I choose this album? Good question. I guess it’s because he makes good music, music that makes you smile, music that makes you sing along… and isn’t you’re not careful music that may open your eyes and try to be a better person.

I’m not sure what the reaction will be from you all. It may be a little like marmite. Hayley likes it, the kids like it and so do I. It’s something that I can put on and everyone enjoys. Hopefully you’ll have a similar result. Enjoy brothers. 

JANUARY – Assume Form by James Blake

 

So, I wasn’t really sure what I’d do for January AOTM. It’s been stressful and difficult few months and my best intentions of getting January finished by early new year came up short of nothing more than inspiration. I just didn’t see much interesting around, and I wasn’t listening to much new stuff either: even 6 Music wasn’t on much any more. The travails of a young family, brutal work and no downtime left me delving back into the past (Eno, mostly) trying to find some tranquility in the modern noise.

But then this arrived, almost serendipitously, out of the mist. And of course, James Blake was both a great option and an album that would server as a hopeful antidote to the current messy modern world. It’s only a bonus that I’ve been a big fan of his, but the question I wondered was: could another album of his songs do anything new? Perhaps it didn’t have to. His music was mostly only even in a genre of its own that – while he gained many imitators – he seemed to have his very own dubby, falsetto, reverb-heavy, then four-four slices of music that was both rich and warm then desolate and icy.

So what did I expect of this? Nothing, as I’d had no advance warning or visibility, and that’s sometimes no bad thing. In my first few listens here – a week or rotation has already been hugely enjoyable if embryonic in my opinions of this as a review at arm’s length – I’ve enjoyed much of what I’ve heard. For a songwriter and sonic experimentalist that has carved out such strange spaces over his previous albums, he’s also managed to take in emotional lyrics, albeit some that so feel wrapped up in his musical ambition that that skill is lost.

Some of his previous work is staggering – Digital Lion, Overgrown, Radio Silence – tracks that only get better with time, and so this has a high standard to follow. I’m not sure all of the LP hits those heights. Some of it is pretty cold, perhaps it’ll warm up over time, but there are some gems. It seems obvious but Where’s The Catch (above) with Andre 3000 at last breaks some of the constrictions of its companions that sometimes feels too forced and deliberately restrained. When beats are as crisp, and warmth flecks the darkness, you do wonder why he doesn’t want to break free as much elsewhere. I’d love to see more of that. However, the title track is wonderful, and while I am not part of the auto-tune crowd, Blake’s collaborations are inventive and interesting.

In short, it’s a work in progress, but I’m hugely enjoying having new James Blake in my life, and it’s just the sort of music to shut out the noise, the angst, the anger, the stress and the discord. I can, at least, salute that.