Nick Mulvey - Wake Up Now
Nick Mulvey’s second album is full of bright melodies mixed with sing out loud choruses, however take a deeper look inside and you’ll find lots of strong, poignant lyrics that will make you question the world we live in and make you ask, are we doing enough?
It would be in a small tent called the Rabbit’s Hole, hidden at the very top of The Park at this years Glastonbury Festival that I would first hear the sounds of “Wake Up Now”, the whole tent was simply captivated by Nick Mulvey’s melodies and his ability to simply bring everyone together in song, It’s the first time I’d heard new tracks such as ‘Myela’ and ‘Mountain To Move’, the lyrics to each song seemed even more poignant at this years politically charged festival, of all the acts I saw that weekend it would be those new songs that would imbed themselves the most in my mind.
That’s because Nick Mulvey has created some of the most thought provoking and present music I’ve heard in quite some time, in a world where it seems artists are afraid to project a message in their music, Nick does the opposite and practically calls for you to wake up now to the world we live in.
I don’t want to get hung up too much on the messages just yet however, another important landmark in Nick’s life providing the backing to this album is that the past year has seen him become a father for the first time and this is reflected not just in the lyrics but in the music itself, the album is a much more joyous and bright release than his first record (2014’s ‘First Mind’), I believe this is down to the emphasis he’s placed on collaboration this time around, he’s entrusted a live band for his performances and placed a variety of co producers and backing vocalists for the studio tracks which have such a raw, organic feel to them due to their live nature.
It’s these harmonies provided by heavenly backing vocals scattered throughout the album that are what really elevates the album above his first. They provide each track with a feel good communal spirit, just like he did for me back in that tent he’s managed to channel that feeling of togetherness into recorded form for the album.
The record is incredibly well put together, it’s cohesive and manages to run from start to finish without any sort of filler, I find especially nowadays where streaming is so present and the death of the album format is highly discussed that it’s rare to find an album that has a central theme, feels different and isn’t padded out, ‘Wake Up Now’ however manages all three. These past two weeks I’ve taken time to really let the album sink in, I’ve had it on a loop continuously and still found myself discovering new intricacies each time around.
Opening track ‘Unconditional’, described by Nick as a love song about conciseness is perhaps the perfect way to begin your journey with the record, it’s a bright, joyous look at life, horns and chanting flow throughout, it captures you instantly. Other highlights include the previously mentioned ‘Myela’ a harrowing collection of refugee tales that through Nick’s words he makes their stories feel human, by taking away prejudice and the media you find your really able to empathise with their plights. “We Are Never Apart” brilliantly follows on from this, however this time focusing on issues more closer to home such as Lancashire’s fracking crisis, Nick cleverly fuses previous track ‘Myela’ as he sets the song as a story to her, describing how despite protests, politics means no problem is ever simply solved. Nick’s ingenious use of a guitar make this one of the most beautiful songs on the album, the melodies mean your not just thinking, your really feeling as well.
Nick’s new fatherhood is explored most in “Remembering”, the lyrics are almost laid out like a nursery rhyme with it’s use of repetition, timing and poetry, it’s a clever way to reminisce his own childhood in a way which could be sung to his own son. The centrepiece of the album is “Mountain To Move”, the track in which the album takes it’s name, Nick’s said before he doesn’t intend to preach with the big “Wake Up Now!” chorus, he intends you to simply look around, it’s a perfect way of saying we all need to look at what’s happening to the world and take notice, it’s a very profound message and show’s a clear progression in Nick’s songwriting. He still hasn’t lost all of his subtlety however, fans of ‘First Mind’ will find solace in “When The Body Is Gone” and “Infinite Trees”, both more slowed down ballads, intricate use of strings and backing vocals add a few deeper layers for the listener to really delve into.
I have to end this review talking about “In Your Hands” which is by far Nick Mulvey’s crowning achievement, the song is the perfect amalgamation of every element featured in the album, the track stretches itself over the course of 7 minutes starting with an extended instrumental opening which really gives the song room to grow, each note simply oozes positivity. In other tracks in the album the choruses seemingly come across as a chant like, this instead goes for a whisper, each time it comes around new elements are introduced from percussion to a soulful female “anana hey”. the result is a love song with a difference because like most of the album it encourages celebration and community and in times like these, that’s a really refreshing change.