Music review: Nick Mulvey, XOYO


He has put away the Chinese hang, yet Nick Mulvey is proving just as adept on acoustic guitar as he delights this packed basement venue with his bewitching technique. As a founder of Mercury-shortlisted jazz outfit Portico Quartet, he introduced us to that UFO-shaped percussion instrument. Now with two EPs under his belt, Mulvey is building up to the release of a major-label album next year.

While that mainly instrumental group often came across as polite, the neatly bearded Mulvey displays a passion for Latin finger-picking and African rhythms. He has obviously done more than simply check out the full-moon parties while globe-trotting, as evinced on sparkling openers 'April' and 'Juramidam'. Rarely does Mulvey allow his virtuosity to grow wearisome, in Newton Faulkner fashion, as on 'Nitrous' with its reference to laughing-gas consumption at festivals.

That sure touch deserts Mulvey on more romantic numbers, the freewheeling stance that should mark him out from the genre's bland Ben Howards. The solo performer's relaxed vocal delivery only highlights less convincing lines. When he commits himself on a dense 'Fever To The Form', though, the effect is bracing, showing he can stand out in a singer/songwriter pack set to get even more crowded.