When Milwaukee singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey scheduled sessions for his latest album, “The Knuckleball Suite,” he and producer David “Goody” Goodrich
decided not to play any of the songs for the musicians until they were actually in the studio.
“This is the first batch of tunes I’ve ever turned in that are all pretty much straight-up American song forms,” explains Mulvey, 37, who’s been recording since the mid-’90s and also has lived in Boston and Ireland. “They’re all in standard tunings and pretty straight-ahead.
“So we figured it would liven things up if we were making things up as we went along. I know these guys and trust them. I knew they’d just jump on it and make it a little more interesting.
“Knuckeball,” which is Mulvey’s ninth album, also includes an idiosyncratic cover of U2’s “The Fly,” changing its frenetic beat to a more mannerly arrangement. The point, he says, was to capture what he felt was the good song beneath the rock ’n’ roll noise.
“I just think it’s a song that holds up,” Mulvey says. “That’s something that gets lost about U2. They’re megastars, but they’re really good. It’s always the good sign of the inner strength of a song; if it’s well-built you can just hurl it into another genre and it still works.
“I have a lot of fun with (‘The Fly’) on stage, saying ‘Here’s a tune from a little undercurrent Irish band that I’ve heard of in my travels there. I’m trying to spread the word about them. You might have heard of them ...’ As if they need me to hype them, right?”
Peter Mulvey and Clive Barnes perform at 8 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 20th)at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $15. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www. theark.org.