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Nick Mulvey First Mind (Polydor)

The easy breeze of a mesmerising vocal blows over the rustling leaves of an intricately picked guitar, like Nick Drake journeying beyond the borders of what typically passes for singer-songwriter terrain.

This is April, one of many standout tracks on Nick Mulvey's debut album, and it's not what you might expect if you only know the Englishman from playing that wok-like percussion instrument, the hang, in the Mercury-nominated Portico Quartet. If, however, you're aware that Mulvey studied guitar as a teenager in Havana and absorbed other world rhythms into his music when at London's School of Oriental and African Studies, then you'll know exactly where you are with the global groove of Juramidam, the mellow and soulful textures of Venus, the heart-swelling uplift that rises from the restrained orchestration on Meet Me There. Restraint is a key word here: Mulvey doesn't push his voice and often seems content to let the guitar be the star. As a result he achieves a rare balance between sustained mood and tuneful variety all the way across the set.

Alan Morrison

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