It isn’t a stretch to say that, in some important ways, Mutlu embodies the ideal of the American Dream. He’s a first generation American of Turkish descent raised in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, and embraced American musical idioms at an early age with a blend of Philly soul, rock, folk, and reggae. His songwriting sparkles with a bevy of melodies well suited to his vocal talents and has earned him a place on the same stages shared by performers as diverse as Katy Perry, John Hiatt, the late Leon Russell, and Adele, among others. Such an impressive cross section of artists speaks about his ability for transcending genre lines – he has something to offer a wide swath of potential audiences. He’s likewise appeared more times on Daryl Hall’s award-winning television program “Live from Daryl’s House” than any other single performer. His new album Good Trouble provides an excellent illustration of his talents and points the way towards a bright future.
“Lifeline” starts the album off in emphatic fashion. The percussion helps the song make the bulk of its impact on listeners but Mutlu’s vocal and his phrasing accentuate those efforts without ever coming off overwrought. Each of the seven tracks included on Good Trouble are defined by concision among other qualities – Mutlu is definitely a believer in no wasted motion and none of the tracks feel over-extended. Mutlu’s lyrics for the track are among the best on the album and that’s high praise indeed. It has a light literary quality but nonetheless has good musical qualities that lock in tight with the arrangement.
The album’s second track “Not Escapable” is another of the album’s best numbers. Good Trouble starts off with quite a contrast between the airy near rock inclinations of the first song and the reggae strands running through the second. The presence of mandolin is an unusual instrumental addition to the album’s second track but it fits in quite well with the song’s musical character. The drumming is especially fitting and hits all its marks.
“Scarred” is another of the album’s high points from a songwriting point of view. It is, in some respects, the album’s darkest moment lyrically and stands out when compared to the other material on Good Trouble, but there’s never a moment on this release mired in the self-absorbed despair we often hear from other singer/songwriter talents. The musicianship maintains the same high level we hear on the other performances despite the slight differences in musical character.
“Nothing in This Whole Wide World” is a pure adulterated love song and full of warm affection without ever striking a melodramatic or sappy note. John Oates makes a guest appearance on vocals and he helps make this the strongest vocal performance on Good Trouble. “Oh My Girl” wraps up the album with another affectionate song capable of striking a recognizable chord with listeners and some excellent acoustic guitar work, but there’s some electric guitar present as well that underlines the emotion without ever sounding out of place. Mutlu’s Good Trouble is a release any music lover will enjoy.