“Someday from the village to the city / I hope we’ll find common ground” pleas soul singer Mutlu in his all-new single “Lifeline,” a powerful R&B ballad that looks ahead at the future with a prayerful optimism that stands in stark contrast with the doom and gloom of the contemporary nightly news in 2019. Mutlu is putting it all on the line with us here, all of his pain, sorrow and unfiltered love for humankind, but he never lets the heavy subject matter transform this track into another mournful dirge in a year overflowing with them. This is thought-provoking soul fusion with a pop hook that stays with us long after the music has stopped playing, and it’s coming from a Philadelphia-branded singer/songwriter who has yet to disappoint fans or critics with his work.
Mutlu’s exotic string play is the foundation of this single, even beyond the rollicking rhythm that frames his every verse. The guitars colorize the black and white percussion with vivid textures and tonality that is warm and inviting, flanking the bigger grooves with a sharp emotionality that isn’t conveyable by mere words alone. The lyrics are strong and uncompromisingly honest, but they don’t overpower the instrumental backdrop at all whatsoever. Mutlu knows how to use every inch of sonic space at his disposal to make a statement with his music, and “Lifeline” is one of the more recent examples of his vibrant skillset in action. He’s been in this game for a lot of years, but he sounds as committed to the craft as he did in his virgin studio release.
I would have made the vocal track a little louder in the buildup to the second chorus, but I can understand why Mutlu decided to go a different way with this portion of “Lifeline.” I think that he wants us to feel the collective energy that all of his supporting cast are churning out alongside him here, and were his lead vocal any more prominent in the master mix than it is, it might have focused the spotlight away from the wall of harmonies and more towards Mutlu’s performance exclusively (subsequently limiting the audiological depth and presence of the single substantially). This song is arranged around the chemistry of its players, and not the ambitions of its composer exclusively.
Music has a way of bringing people together like nothing else can, and in that spirit we find “Lifeline” and its massively important message this summer. Mutlu is using the platform that he’s established for himself for good in this track, and despite the fact that it’s got a radio-ready polish and the kind of surreal stylization that will essentially make it a guaranteed hit for its creator, I don’t get the impression that it was designed for the purposes of eventually cashing a big paycheck at all. There’s just too much heart, too much unmatched emotion in this single for me to think that, and once you give “Lifeline” a spin, I think you’re going to see exactly what I’m talking about. Mutlu is a true-blue singer/songwriter if I’ve ever heard one, and he’s representing the Philly identity marvelously in his new track.