One of the daftest genre descriptions I've heard in a long time is alt.country. However, from what I know of, it describes this CD nicely - it's bluesy, jazzy, funky folk music with a dash of country. A term to describe the indescribable, handy!
Anyway, Peter Mulvey is an American with a serious Ireland fetish. However, unlike most Americans, he is allowed, as he lived and studied here, so he's no irritating tourist. Nowhere is this fetish more visible than on "Glencree", a CD of music recorded during his Irish tour in October '88. Glencree itself is a place in Ireland and the CD cover features an Irish stamp and some photos of Peter in Cork.
Having been at the Dublin gig, I know that these songs were recorded in as lo-fi a manner as possible. The Dublin gig was in a fairly out-of-the-way pub on the Northside, the Ballymore-Eustace gig was in, well, Ballymore-Eustace (never heard of it? I'm not surprised!) and the Cork gig was presumable somewhere similar. The recording is, however, surprisingly clear, but it sounds amazing. This is as unplugged as it gets, without the MTV hype, just two men, some guitars and a little help from Juliet Turner on backing vocals here and there.
The simplicity of the arrangement makes Peter's smooth, smoky voice shine. This is a mix of his own stuff and a few of his favourites, written by people like Stephen Foster, Greg Brown and Pamela Means. The old Irish fetishism comes in here as well, with a track called 'Stephen's Green' (where he once busked) and a very, very old traditional tune, 'I am Stretched on your Grave' (recorded by Dead Can Dance and Sinéad O'Connor among others).
Basically, this is a good as this stuff gets; pure talent without frills or adornment. One quibble, though, having been at the gigs, is that all of the banter between the songs has been edited out. The 'live' feel is left to simply the applause. But, hey, it's a little thing and, that aside, this is great. And, if Sean Mullens can get played on MTV, there's no good reason why Peter Mulvey can't.
by Donnacha DeLong.