The labyrinthine underpinnings of metro Boston are an unlikely setting for a folk maverick's album, but that's exactly where Peter Mulvey recorded his latest release, Ten Thousand Mornings. Mulvey performs with all the grit and self-deprecating humor you'd imagine from a man who wants to sing underground. Luckily, the echoes and afterthoughts layered in his voice sound impressive aboveground as well.
Mulvey is a typical folk-rock poet with an approach that's anything but typical. Every time he picks up his guitar, he plays it as if it's the last time he'll ever touch the thing, and he writes with the articulate abandon of a man whose bags are packed. He's a poet of the underside, the unseen and the subconscious, the kind of lyricist who seems to transcribe the very thoughts from your head. Forever a step ahead, Mulvey attacks his guitar with a ferocity that makes it hard to believe he once had to get by playing at subway stops for spare change.
Though Ten Thousand Mornings is a curiosity-piquing selection of cover songs, it's Mulvey's ability to innovate that distinguishes him from contemporaries such as Richard Shindell and Willy Porter. With a style that draws as much from traditional Irish folk as it does from Tom Waits, Mulvey manages to maintain what so often eludes contemporary folk artists -- utter originality.