Peter Mulvey's third release is a collection of live recordings from a 1998 tour of Ireland. In contrast to the sunny romp of Rapture and the murky angst of Deep Blue, Glencree finds Mulvey in a contemplative mood, attempting, in his words, to "turn the trick of bringing moments to life while simultaneously catching and holding them." This proves to be an excellent approach for Mulvey, whose thunderously masterful fretwork makes him a heart stopping live performer. Mulvey is a guitarist in the vein of Leo Kottke and Richard Thompson, capable of six-string virtuosity so multifaceted it creates the illusion that he is playing two guitars at once. As a songwriter, he mates this intense guitar playing with lyrics that couch penetrating insight in clever wordplay like "the trouble with time is that it don't grow back" and "sometimes I feel like the man you think I think I am." Glencree opens with some of his best songwriting, following the riotous "Trouble with Poets" with the compassionate "Tender Blindspot" and the snappy "Better Way to Go." On later tracks, however, the record suffers from questionable song selection. The droning plangency of "Stretched on Your Grave" makes for an anticlimactic conclusion. And Juliet Turner's somewhat shrill background vocals don't do justice to Mulvey's sensitive covers of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again" and Pamela Means' "If I Were." Turner has a tendency to accentuate two common Mulvey pitfalls: the unnecessary affectation of his vocals and his sometimes errant sense of melody. But Mulvey's bristling intelligence and crafty instrumentalism more than compensate for these shortcomings, and Glencree is likely to leave listeners anxiously scouring their local concert listings for his next eye-popping performance.
by Evan Cater