April 20, 2014 by tincanreview
For the past 20 years Milwaukee born troubadour Peter Mulvey has toured the world with songs of love, life and astrophysics. ‘Silver Ladder’ is his first album of original material since 2009’s ‘Letters From A Flying Machine’ and finds the songwriter in the best shape of his life.
To record the album Mulvey reached out to fellow musician Chuck Prophet after meeting him just once at a show in Tampa, Florida several years previously. Chuck agreed to produce the album and put together an impressive cast of musicians including drummer David Kemper (Bob Dylan), guitarist James DePrato (Mission Express) and bassist Tom Freund (Ben Harper). Whilst powerful this unique ensemble never divert attention away from the songs themselves. One can almost imagine Prophet conducting the musicians to the score which Mulvey has set out.
Whilst some albums offer a Side A/Side B structure, ‘Silver Ladder’ feels like a work in Three Acts. Opening tracks such as ‘Sympathies’ and ‘You Don’t Have To Tell Me’ present the band at their most energetic. This injection of rock and roll is rarely heard in Mulvey’s previous work and is a welcome contribution. The middle section is less frenetic with ballads such as ‘Trempealeau’ and ‘Josephine’. Mulvey’s skill as a lyricist is brought to the forefront here with lines such as ‘Josephine, I want my hat back, it looks better on you, still I miss what went on beneath it when I had it on’. The melodies linger long after the notes have faded and repeated listens are just as rewarding. Final songs such as ‘Copenhagen Airport’ and ‘If You Shoot At A King You Must Kill Him’ are less conventional but provide a strong resolution when heard in relation to the rest of the material.
‘Silver Ladder’ was the first of Mulvey’s albums to have been funded by fans and the songwriter exceeded his goal by almost $40,000. Whilst these songs are likely to appeal to investors familiar with his work he will no doubt attract new listeners with this latest milestone.
Released 31st March 2014, Rating 4/5