Mulholland's Stop & Start Again starts with a cosmic disco and ends with a flurry of violins. The journey from soulful proggery to classicism will take you across nearly every aspect of music from the ‘70s: blurry, bleary synths; Bee Gees vocals; symphonic art rock and working class worn denim rock. Jolyon Mulholland is an accomplished songwriter and sound engineer, born in Christchurch, NZ and recently relocated to Auckland, after a two year stint in NYC playing with famed New Zealand export Liam Finn of Crowded House fame, who speaks glowingly of Mulholland's abilities.
Mulholland's production experience is put to good use on Stop & Start Again. Minus the drums, he plays every note of the album's orchestral toy chest himself and his recording chops make sure that every nuance is lovingly captured and placed, creating an incandescent travelogue of a song collection.
Much of Stop & Start Again is concerned with transit: the songs are loaded with references to coming and going, and various modes of transport, such as "Loneliness For Free" (an album highlight) and album closer "I Took A Train.” The feeling you are left with is being transplanted behind the eyes of an itinerant musician, watching the world pass by through gritty, bug-stained windshields. While this could be a grim, disaffecting experience, it's actually quite the opposite. Mulholland's rootlessness makes you see your own home through a fresh pair of eyes, as a wanderer might.
Much of the material on Stop & Start Again leans towards the '70s AM gold sound quality of Steely Dan or the warped plastic sensation of disco. This sound has resurfaced in the past few years due to the archive dipping of the "hauntological pop" trend in the United States via sonic wackjobs like Ariel Pink or R. Stevie Moore. In case you need a dose of flared trousers and feathered bangs or if you would like some soul on your dance floor but don't care to endure battery acid marching band parades or to wade through 150 records to find those moments of sublimity, Mulholland's your guy.
Mulholland's voice is one of the highlights of this record, which varies from the falsetto-like blue-eyed soul of disco's illuminated dance floor and John Lennon's warm and worn world-weary vocals. It really is as if Mulholland has managed to condense the experience of an entire decade into an hour.
Stop & Start Again gets better as it goes along, although it's all good, so make sure you don't quit until the miracle happens in the culmination of "Before It All Falls Apart" and "I Took A Train," which are my personal faves.
In Jolyon Mulholland, we clearly have a man who's dedicated his life to art and music. Speaking from personal experience, it takes A LONG TIME to get proficient on one instrument let alone 12 of them and recording them expertly to boot. Here, we have an example of excellent song craft with the technical knowhow to give it gull's wings.
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