At a time of great uncertainty, it helps to surround yourself with those things you trust, and so marks the timely return of the reliably brilliant Nick Mulvey. His standout debut album, First Mind, in 2015 was the introduction of an artist who shirked the conventional and side-stepped the expected. It was a record of opposing shades, all leftfield rhythms, and harnessing an exquisitely natural guitarist doing extraordinary things, painting unique colours across a very moreish collection of songs. It was quite peerless, and translated to the stage alongside a fine collection of talented players that formed his band.
Nick’s return with the first fruits of his new album sessions has brought with it his own outlook on a world that can’t decide which direction it’s going, or quite what to do with itself. We’re all hastily trying to find our spot within these times, and Nick is no exception, but if clarity is part-resolved by a call to arms, perhaps it’s time to make that call. "Unconditional", the first new music from Mulvey in over two years, is a multi-layered, groove-based tune that doesn’t stray too far from First Mind, but far enough to sound fresh, unique and exciting.
"Unconditional" is one of a number of standout songs from the sprawling Wake Up Now, an album rooted in the conscience and all that it stands for. It’s also a record that harbours great community, welcoming a host of new and multi-talented musicians with a flourishing skillset. That sense of community was drilled home by Brian Eno in a few pre-recording meet-ups between the two, who implored Nick to open himself up more and consider sharing the weight-load. The idea of opening himself up more has filtered into Nick’s lyrics too, once swathed in metaphor upon metaphor, they’re now at the heart of this record’s identity. Clarity. Humanity.
Production duties here are handed to Ethan Johns at Real World Studios who recorded Nick and his band live and at their most raw to reinforce that key community spirit, and whose eventual finished tapes Nick then took up to London and presented to First Mind producer Dan Carey who meticulously sewed in the electronic elements. Standout tracks are almost as crucial as the sum of Wake Up Now’s parts, and the seismic "Mountain To Move" (with the album title at the heart of the song’s refrain) and "We Are Never Apart" implore repeat plays.
It’s a much more relaxed Nick Mulvey that delivers Wake Up Now. Comfortable within his own skin, for want of a less travelled term. The community he’s built around himself all sit on the same page together, letting the music and conversation at the heart of this record flow naturally and at ease with the world around them. It’s the work of a special British talent ready for the next phase, whatever that phase will be. Join him.