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Album Review

"I want a deep, resonant, effortless voice," Peter Mulvey confesses in one of the tracks on this ambitious folk album. "A big voice — bigger than me." Throughout his semi-major-label debut, Mulvey affects a deep, gruff, bluesy vocal style which is, indeed, bigger than him, calling to mind the Rockwellian image of a small child wearing a suit three times his size. For all of its appealing melodies and accomplished acoustic guitar work, the album is full of that sort of overambition. But overambition is always preferable to underambition, and at times it make this record more interesting. Rapture is speckled with drippingly earnest spoken word pieces (including the previously quoted "The Voice," which concludes with the lines "with this voice I would cry freedom and then I would speak peace"). There's even a "radio play for voice and guitar," which manages to be more intriguing than pretentious. As a guitarist, Mulvey more than compensates for his lack of grace as a vocalist. He strums and plucks his acoustic guitars with an impressive funkiness, detuning his lower strings to depths usually reserved for the standup bass. At the end of the album, Mulvey includes a solo acoustic cover of the Waterboys' "Whole of the Moon," recorded live in a Boston subway. His passion and commitment are endearing, as he continues playing even after the noisy train disinterestedly rolls away. Mulvey is a talented performer, reaching with all his strength for greatness. Because he hasn't grasped it yet, he appears to be overreaching, but it can be pretty entertaining watching him try.


Born: Milwaukee, WI

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Urban art-folksier Peter Mulvey has lived an artist's life since adolescence -- he was a college theater major, spent time busking in Dublin, Ireland, and founded the Milwaukee band Big Sky, all before his early twenties. But his professional music career didn't really begin until 1991, when was fired from a job at a Kinko's Copiers in Boston. Flat broke and in need of immediate cash to entertain his visiting brother, Mulvey starting playing his guitar in the subway. He supported himself that way...
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Rapture, Peter Mulvey
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