Last month, Philadelphia’s Mutlu won me over with his song, “Lifeline,” the lead-off single to his new EP, “Good Trouble.” With his classic easy and soulful voice he delivered a beautiful song that was one part social commentary and one part inspirational hymn.
“Good Trouble” is now available on Spotify. Stylistically, the seven song EP touches on multiple genres, from Folk to Jazz. However, the thread that ties them all together is the smooth soul of Mutlu’s voice.
Mutlu has already amassed an impressive career. He has shared stages around the world with everyone from Joe Jackson to Katy Perry. He has collaborated extensively with Amos Lee, and has a long standing relationship with blue-eyed soul legends, Hall and Oates. Mr. Oates even makes a guest appearance on “Good Trouble.”
After the understated instrumentation of “Lifeline,” the record moves into the unexpected arrangement of a ukulele driven reggae beat on the song “Not Escapable”. With a natural and unprocessed production that flows through this whole EP, Mutlu’s band lays down a perfect, simple groove that had me swaying in my chair.
Over that cool vibe the singer riffs on the news of the day. He doesn’t name names, but he leaves no question as to where he stands on a certain cheeto-toned billionaire living on Pennsylvania Ave. I particularly enjoyed the second verse in which Mutlu sings from the perspective of the stable genius with lines like, “Sixty million sheep under my control.”
“95 to 5” takes on a jazzier vibe with Mutlu’s guitar at the center. The drums and bass drop a cool funk, while a wah-wah guitar sneaks some blues riffs in. Lyrically the tune continues the social commentary, using highway gridlock as an effective metaphor for the struggle of daily life.
A Personal Turn
The melancholy acoustic “Scarred” is the record’s darkest moment, emotionally speaking. Gone is the optimism of “Lifeline.” This protagonist sounds as though he has given up when he sings, “I know our best days are long gone.” A solo nylon stringed guitar is eventually joined by steel stringed acoustic and electric guitars. The three weave around one another beautifully. The song has a bit of a classic rock feel.
The mood lifts significantly on “Nothing in this Whole Wide World.” Mutlu is joined by, none other than, John Oates. He provides perfect Marvin Gaye inspired background harmonies over the mellow funk of a 70’s R&B groove. Mutlu’s fantastic lead hints alternately at Marvin and Michael Jackson.
Realism slightly tempers the optimism on, “Work for It.” The song is a funky ode to the value rolling up your sleeves. I particularly liked the Bossa Nova intro to the song. Also, it has a great bassline.
Mutlu rounds out the set with “Oh My Girl,” a sweet love song. The beautiful simplicity of, “oh my girl, i love you everyday” sets exactly the right mood. Some really slick guitar playing backs him up, including a nice jazz solo on electric.
I was a fan of Mutlu after my first listen to Lifeline. But I wanted to hear more.
Good Trouble just sealed the deal.
Follow the links below for more Mutlu.
Mutlu Onaral began writing music shortly after he picked up the guitar in his mid-teens. He then continued on to play in a few bands and join an acapella group during college. While growing up steeped in Philadelphia’s deep R&B traditions, Mutlu eagerly absorbed the fundamentals of old-school soul music and incorporated it into his own musical persona.
Mutlu has already made substantial headway with his high-caliber soulful sound. He’s collaborated and toured extensively as a support act with legendary duo Daryl Hall & John Oates. He even holds the distinction of having made the most guest appearances on Daryl Hall’s acclaimed, award-winning TV/Internet show “Live From Daryl’s House”. Mutlu has also toured as a supporting act during the North American leg of Joe Jackson’s acclaimed “Rain” tour. Additionally he has performed alongside noted singer-songwriter Amos Lee, and has shared stages with the likes of Adele, Katy Perry, John Hiatt, Leon Russell, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Todd Rundgren, Shuggie Otis & many more.