EP Review: Nick Mulvey – Begin Again

Like the rest of us, Nick Mulvey didn’t see Coronavirus coming. Mid-March, one week prior to the European lockdown, Mulvey left his Ibiza home to travel to Cornwall on an ‘old normal’ style song writing expedition. A week later, the world as we know it flipped on its head and society swiftly shut down, key workers became elevated to God-like status and the rest of us mere mortals were left scratching our heads wondering what on Earth we could do to help. While some of us baked banana bread, Mulvey took a moment to reframe his latest work and as always came up with the goods.

“I see chaos but I also see the opportunity for a new world, and a more beautiful one,” Nick says. “We are living through an incredible shift. The old ways are dying, right before our very eyes. In a way, my songs are songs of the new ways coming through.”

The latest EP, Begin Again, is Nick Mulvey’s attempt to inspire in the face of a crisis. If ‘normal’ as we know it has crumbled, we must begin again; we have an opportunity to rebuild and improve, it’s up to us to take it.

The EP’s title track was originally inspired by Nick’s journey to learn more about his maternal grandmother Mary, who passed away before he was born. A year ago, he sought to learn more about her and was able to establish a deep connection with her through moving accounts of her teachings, rooted deeply in compassion and mutual respect.

“Mary was my Mother’s Mother and my sister too… There’s rain in the river, there’s a river a river running through… Mary young as we may be, you know the blood in you and me is as old as blood can be.”

In the face of Covid – 19 the song took on a different meaning; in these times it has become glaringly obvious that we are inextricably connected to one another. We are vulnerable and at the mercy of one another’s actions. The uplifting and powerful track focuses on our interconnection with the past, with nature, and with one another. The song metamorphosised into a powerful moment, representing the possibilities that this great pause could bring into the world, and the EP was born.

It shouldn’t take a global pandemic for us to realise how connected we are with one another, and yet here we are. Mulvey sings, “I am in the forest, in the city and the field, I am in the bounty come on know me as I yield. I am in the falcon, in the otter and the snow, I am in the turtle dove with nowhere else to go”.

The track has all the great features of a classic Mulvey festival anthem; it’s easy on the ear and upbeat. Lyrically it packs as great as punch as the likes of previous releases ‘Myela’, ‘Wake Up Now’ and ‘Moment of Surrender’. Pertinent examples of Nick’s ambition to use his music to inspire positive change.

The EP also features a of cover of the late Bill Withers’ ‘Hope She’ll Be Happier’. Mulvey pays tribute to Withers by conjuring the darkness and introspection of the original track; this version being more progressive folk in style than the original, the cover nods to the pain and sorrow of the Withers hit.

On ‘Third Way’ we see a more stripped back Mulvey tackle notions of over- consumption and reclaiming balance within the way we live our lives. Mulvey sings, “Brother don’t seek the light, Don’t put on the tide, Don’t buy the book, There’s plenty in the lower layer if you dare, O much if you’re willing to look”, the repetitive structure to the track has almost trance like quality, with his vocals sounding more like spoken word at points.

Mulvey’s ‘rootsy’ approach to music inspired Eric Bodin from Little Dragon to remix ‘Begin Again’. which features as the fourth and final track on the EP. The collaboration takes ‘Begin Again’ up to 120 BPM – the perfect speed to “disco out” as Eric explains. The track is a perfect summer anthem and completes the EP brilliantly.

As 2020 continues to bend our minds and anxiety continues to creep up on us all, Begin Again is a piece of art that can ground us. Emotive and powerful the record strikes many a chord. As a global community we are connected, we depend on each other, the sooner we realise this and work together, the likelier we are to experience positive change.

Jessica Newsome