Peter Mulvey

Rain

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Rain was recorded only two years after Peter Mulvey's debut effort, Brother Rabbit Speaks, but his songwriting skills seem to have improved by light years during that period. He has trimmed the excess verbiage, tightened the melodies, and reined in his prodigious guitar abilities from the egregious free for all onslaught of Brother Rabbit into a series of incisive and well-crafted folk songs. His singing voice still sounds young and somewhat green, and at least one of the songs ("I Smell the Future") was to benefit from further trimming and sculpting on a later record. But there are several first-rate tracks here. "All in Good Fun" is a delightful sunny romp of a song that begins with the memorable image of a "latter-day Snoopy and Woodstock" frolicking to Vince Guaraldi music. Mulvey continues the cartoon theme with a reflective folk ballad he introduces as "November and Calvin and Hobbes." There is also a brilliant ode to subway life, "The Dreams," which was apparently composed to freak out passersby with metaphysical truths during underground performances. Rain was recorded live at a Milwaukee concert, and it benefits from its barebones solo arrangements and Mulvey's spontaneous energy. Of course, there was still plenty of room for growth. Rain is not nearly as polished as Mulvey's mature label-backed efforts. But if Brother Rabbit Speaks is the musical equivalent of an embarrassing high school yearbook photo, Rain is a portrait of the artist as a young man.

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