Soul comes in many shapes and sounds and comes at you from a hundred different angles and places.
Philadelphia's got an overabundance of it.
Always had (thank you Gamble & Huff)
Must be something in the water.
Mutlu Onaral must have drunk a whole lot of that water growing up.
He may be more R & F (rhythm & folk) than R & Blue. You can even add the bounce of the Brazilian and the sway of the Jamaican in his tunes. But the 27 year old singer, instrumentalist and composer, known to everyone as Mutlu, has always sounded as if he's been drunk on the Philly punch that makes the funk flow.
From the intimate high and passionate lows of his voice, to the friendly wordplay of the lyrics to melodies soaked in percussion, soaring string sounds and the flicker of the Fender Rhodes, it's as if you're hearing Stephen Stills having breakfast with Stevie Wonder, lunch with Steely Dan and dinner with Daryl Hall; yet all in a unique groovy setting courtesy of pop's newest most iconic voice.
By the time Mutlu got into college, he started digging on A Tribe Called Quest and other hip-hop artists. At the same time, he began developing a songwriting style that benefited from those artists. But mostly - from the sway of his melodies to the effervescence of his lyrics - he began to craft songs based on his own sense of joy. Positivism is the hallmark of his lyrical aplomb. Even when Mutlu's portraying the saddest of sorrows, he's always ripe with hope.
"That's my thread - something that makes people feel good. Consciously or subconsciously there's been a negative vibe running throughout the world lately. I wanted to go against that grain. I'm not always happy-go-lucky. But I wanted to channel my influences while taking people away from dwelling on their misery."
To prove that he's always been on the cheery side, Mutlu makes note of the oldest song on the record: "See What It Brings." It was written when he was studying in college. "I just remember feeling down and I wanted to get out of it. So I wrote about the optimism of the future to help lift me from my doldrums."
If Mutlu had only been around when we were in college.