Peter Mulvey, "Are You Listening?" (Righteous Babe Records)
Peter Mulvey is fond of alternate guitar tunings, and alternate sequencing. On his 17th and latest album, "The Last Song" is the third of 12 songs. "Song After the Last Song" comes eight songs later, just before the last song.
This singer-songwriter marches to his own drum, even when there isn't one, and he has found a simpatico producer in Ani DiFranco, who helps "Are You Listening?" deliver plenty of clever twists.
Mulvey quotes Chekhov, and then recites his own poem. There are few instrumental breaks, even though he (Mulvey, not Chekhov) is a marvelous guitarist. But Todd Sickafoose does play a lovely bass solo.
The tunes tackle the topical, from bullying ("Just Before the War") to Trayvon Martin ("Which One Were You?). Mulvey also sings about love, friendship, high school girls who smoke and coping with the finite. He finds richness in the details, from typewriters to tailgaters, and even has a song called "The Details." On the 55-second closer, "Still Life," Mulvey sings of happiness and Mexican food without making that seem redundant.
With "Are You Listening?" it's hard to stop.
This story has been corrected to show the album has 12 songs and one poem, not 13 songs.
Steven Wine, The Associated Press