Imagine stepping off a subway and hearing an amazing version of Paul Simon’s “Stranded In A Limousine” being played by Peter Mulvey and Chris Smither, for free, right there on the subway platform. You’d be late for work.
For Boston commuters, this wakeup performance is a daily occurrence, as Mulvey has fashioned a career in the Boston underground. For this disc, recorded in that very subway over the course of a year, he’s enlisted the help of Smither, Erin McKeown, David Goodrich and a few well-chosen others to accompany him in a collection highlighted by fresh takes on songs by Simon, Randy Newman, Bob Dylan (a bluegrass version of “Mama, You Been On My Mind”), Marvin Gaye and James Nyx Jr. (“Inner City Blues”), Los Lobos (“Two Janes”), Dar Williams (“The Ocean”), and others.
Mulvey’s baritone and phrasing are reminiscent of solo Lyle Lovett, with more depth and sustain. He hammers his slack top E string to create an ear-catching, cello-like rhythm, and his fingerpicked bluesy melodies are always interesting. Check out “Oliver’s Army”, which must sound like it sounded when Elvis Costello was busking.