Pete Muller,
More Than This
(independent, 2004)

If you're looking for a great singer-songwriter album, here it is. More Than This by Pete Muller has great vocals, great lyrics, great instrumental work, great arrangements, great everything. And the greatest thing about this album is that it's not an overwhelming greatness -- it's more of a comfortable greatness.

Muller has a mellow unassuming voice that allows the lyrics to supercede the notes. In other words, you want to listen to what he's singing rather than how he's singing it. You can especially hear this effect in the opening track, "Still Looking for My Home," in both vocals and piano.

Beyond the subtlety of Muller's vocals and piano, there are many other reasons to enjoy this album. There are well-written lyrics (such as "Firefly"), cool jazz-like grooves ("'Til It's Time to Leave") and simple upbeat songs with catchy choruses ("I Don't Know What to Do"). "Underneath the Ground" is beatnik bliss meets poetry slam. It's got a smooth backbeat rhythm with nice percussive framing for Muller to speak/sing. He breaks form to sing a chorus but hops right back into poetry slam mode.

But not everything is upbeat or catchy; Muller has a dark and mysterious side, as evidenced in "The Ghost or the Fear." Besides having a cool and spooky title, it's also a very cool and spooky song. It has a haunting yet interesting mystique, both lyrically and musically, showing that Muller's music covers all emotional ranges.

As much as I enjoyed listening to this album, there is something I must confess: I accidentally reviewed this album backwards. Typically I will look over any press materials to know what I'll be listening to and then review it. Well, for some reason on this album I just popped the CD in and listened to it and then reviewed the material. (OK, technically I listen to it burned on my computer at work, but anyway....)

So, I obviously ended up liking this album and then took a gander at the press materials. Included is a 2003 article on Muller's background; he used to be a Wall Street broker, made it big and decided to be a musician full-time. In addition to that, he donates all money made from his music to charity!

Well, not only is Pete Muller's music likable -- so is the artist! So, I highly recommend More Than This. Good music mixed with good intentions -- what's not to like?

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 16 July 2005

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