Modern technology can be a wondrous thing. Most of us have access to the kind of tech that would have been unthinkable just a couple of decades ago. What would have filled a large room not so long ago, now fits into the palms of our hands. It's incredible what one can do with just a mobile phone, and Peter James Millson has explored those possibilities to their fullest here, with an album recorded entirely on a mobile phone.
While all this might seem a little gimmicky, the album feels anything but. Millson recorded these songs as memos on a smartphone to send to Boo Hewerdine (producer of Mobile). Hewerdine decided they sounded beautiful and timeless as they were, he suggested making the album this way. It does create a surprising intimacy; stick the album on in the car, and you'll be looking round to make sure Millson isn't sat singing on the backseat.
From the moment We've Got It All kicks off the record, it feels like a private concert. There's a power to the music which is all the stronger for the simple arrangements, perfectly serving the vocal performance. The piano on If There Isn't You is a great example, simple but incredibly effective. These songs don't need any added bells and whistles, and assorted instruments. Just a guitar or a piano, and a voice (and some birdsong).
It works especially well on Little Toy Plane and Two Wheels Good, the sense of nostalgia really coming to the fore. The latter came from his memories of riding his bike while listening to Prefab Sprout's seminal album, Steve McQueen (named Two Wheels Good in the States). Forever Changing, dedicated to Jed Ranner, feels perfectly bittersweet and full of melancholia, and A Little Light is a beautiful introspective song.
Pick of the bunch though is True Believer, which is full of atmosphere. It's wonderfully quiet but powerful, a fantastic little gem of a song.
Back in January when writing about his gig in Exeter, I said that this album had the potential to be one of the best albums of 2017. Having listened to the album in full a number of times now, I fully believe I was spot on. While his previous two albums were rightly well received, Mobile shows that Peter James Millson is one of the most exciting musicians out there at the moment.
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