Peter Mulvey - Letters From A Flying Machine (Music CD)

Release Date: 14 December 2009
Artist: Peter Mulvey
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It's hard to understand why Peter Mulvey isn't better known. His acoustic guitar work is flawless, avoiding folky clich?s for a light, jazzy feel that makes his melodies bounce, and his singing is superb, an understated tenor that puts across deep emotion without over-singing. Maybe it's his enunciation that puts people off. You can actually understand every word, while most of the radio-ready pop singer/songwriters in the 21st century try to express emotion by moaning and mumbling their way through a tune, dropping as many melismas into every line as the market will bear. Letters from a Flying Machine is built around spoken word interludes -- letters written to his young nieces and nephews that he never sent. Most are painful to listen to, lacking the grace and lighthearted humor that mark his songwriting. The one letter that doesn't fall flat is "Vlad the Astrophysicist," a look at the indifferent nature of the universe through the eyes of a scientist. It's an unnerving bit of prose, implicitly about the impossibility of finding a real connection with other people, and probably not a piece you should play for impressionable children. Thankfully, the songs on the album aren't as heavy-handed, even when they take on weighty subjects. "Some People" is a wry topical tune that touches on religion, homelessness, and congressional sex scandals with a breezy grace and a refrain that will immediately embed itself in your skull. "Kids in the Square" addresses the tribulations of the world from another angle, contrasting the messes adults make of their lives with the kids dancing in the rain, still unaware of what faces them in adult live. Mulvey's chiming, inventive fretwork gives the tune an uplifting swing. Mulvey looks through a "Windshield" to observe the winter with a blue eye and aching heart. Bluesy sustained notes and David Goodrich's slide guitar intensify the tune's frosty feel. "Dynamite Bill" is a wordy, humorous blues about love and its limitations marked by Mulvey's quicksilver playing and Zak Trojano's minimal percussion. He closes the album with a take of Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here to Stay," recorded as if on a cassette machine in an airplane's bathroom, or perhaps as heard over an old-fashioned radio with a rattling speaker. ~ j. poet

More Detail

  • 1. Kids in the Square
  • 2. Some People
  • 3. Letter From a Flying Machine
  • 4. Windshield
  • 5. What's Keeping Erica
  • 6. ...Plus the Many Inevitable Fragments
  • 7. Dynamite Bill
  • 8. Soulderbirds (You Know Me)
  • 9. Bears
  • 10. Mailman
  • 11. Vlad the Astrophysicist
  • 12. On a Wing and a Prayer
  • 13. Coda Love is Here to Stay
Release Date: 14 December 2009
Artist: Peter Mulvey
Catalogue No: SIG2023