Peter Mulvey,
Kitchen Radio
(Signature Sounds, 2004)

Peter Mulvey comes over as a cross between Christy Moore and Richard Thompson. I'm not saying he's on a par with either of them, but his voice is clear, the music (guitar, bass and drums) is strong and the songwriting is thoughtful if occasionally just a little to the left of obscure.

Certainly, the opening song had me smiling, for I too have been "On the Road to Mallow," and I too met up with the "six rabbits, two dogs, one cat, one cow." Not to mention a haywain trying to get down an impossibly narrow street in a one-pub town. At 2 in the morning, no doubt it's just as spooky as Mulvey describes.

There is variety here -- "Denver 6 a.m." is as far away as you can get, on many levels, from Mallow -- and there's poetry. "You" is a series of scenes from the whisper of a love affair, and "Falling" is a tribute to a missing angel. Sometimes, the poetry obscures the message, and sometimes, as per the message of "29c Head," I just don't get it. On the whole, though, I found the experience more intriguing than frustrating, and although I tripped over the odd cliche there are some excellent images: "I'm as dirty as a mitten on a winter street," "it's a forty dollar haircut on a twenty-nine cent head" and "your voice on the phone is like one of those paintings where everything loses its shape," all as clear in my mind as "Zechariah Redbeard with his tonic and his lime."

The final verse of "Thirty" says it all for me, and I'll leave you with that and encourage you to go to the artist's website to sample the album for yourself.

"The summer stars they like to whisper
We've been hoodwinked all along
There is not a shred of meaning here, but
Thirty Buddhas on a walnut sez you're wrong."

- Rambles
written by Jean Lewis
published 15 January 2005

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