Mutlu Onaral is a singer/songwriter from Philadelphia who mixes soul and folk into a sound that highlights the best of both.
If it sounds familiar (a la Hall and Oates), it may be because the set was produced by none other than Tom “T-Bone” Wolk. Not surprisingly, Hall makes a guest appearance on the wonderful acoustic funk of “See What It Brings.” The song highlights what’s great about this album.
Mutlu’s vocals are silky smooth, but not clichéd. He has a high-pitched voice, but not in the sense of classic soul crooners. The acoustic funk is jabbed at times by nice electric guitar fills and a soulful, vibrato-laden solo.
Wolk, known as the bassist for Hall and Oates, is a fine guitarist and plays the lion’s share of six-string.
But this record is driven by tremendous songs. “Hello Morning” is a spacey folk/soul mix with nice changes. “Marilyn” is pop heaven. “Shaky Ground” is reggae with a guest appearance by G. Love. “Make it There,” with guest Amos Lee, is a minor-key lament about the state of the streets. The choruses are gorgeous.
The centerpiece is “Mama’s Not Coming Home,” a pop/rock/soul mix with an incredible hook and a fine, if a bit depressing, story. It’s full of great changes, marvelous vocals, and soulful electric and acoustic guitar.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.