Singer-songwriter-guitarist Peter Mulvey and fellow Milwaukeeans, the in-demand dynamic duo SistaStrings have joined hands once again for a brand new studio album, Love Is The Only Thing, due out August 12th on Righteous Babe Records. A self-proclaimed anti-fascist record, Love Is The Only Thing keeps kindness and compassion in the foreground, following a similar musical path to Mulvey and SistaStrings’ Live at the Café Carpe, which was released in late 2020 and, like the new album, includes drummer Nathan Kilen rounding out the ensemble. Fans can pre-order or pre-save Love Is The Only Thing right now at this link and get refamiliarized with Mulvey and SistaStrings’ brilliant sound by checking out Live at the Café Carpe right here.
SistaStrings—cellist-vocalist Monique Ross and violinist-vocalist Chauntee Ross—bring all the beautiful versatility of their cello and violin music—along with sibling-strong vocal harmonies—to Love Is The Only Thing. Classically trained string players who grew up singing in church, Monique and Chauntee were destined to defy conventions of genre and race alike, blending R&B, gospel, and classical sounds. Mulvey met the Rosses in 2016, and all three felt an instant kinship. “Peter has been the complete definition of an ally. We found a home in the folk/Americana realm when we began working with Peter and that gave our career the direction it was lacking,” says Monique.
The bright light of family illuminates this record and all that went into making it. Its existence hinges on the way we take care of each other, from its fan-supported funding to the sanctuary of Café Carpe to the blood sisterhood of the Rosses to Mulvey’s newfound fatherhood. “This album is basically a happy family song, then a song about how f*cked up things are, then a family song, then a song about how f*cked up things are,” Mulvey laughs. And making Love Is The Only Thing at such a tumultuous time in history reinforced Mulvey’s and SistaStrings’ role as activists just as much as musicians. “Finding refuge and rejuvenation in these songs with this group of musicians was healing and personally some sort of mission statement for why we even make music in the first place,” Chauntee remembers.
Love Is The Only Thing explores loss, tension, and the love that sees us through it. Folk classic “Shenandoah” longs for a kinder America, while “Old Men Drinking Seagram’s” is a snapshot of a small town full of hate. “Soft Animal” offers tender sensuality, while “On the Eve of the Inaugural” finds the narrator turning his care to a baby in a stranger’s car. “Song for Michael Brown” is a humble plea for compassion for Brown and for all of us living with the threat of violence and hate. Some songs are more focused on the loneliness of the pandemic and its flipside of love and togetherness. “You and (Everyone Else)” addresses the pandemic loneliness and fear for others' safety, while “Five Hundred Days” promises a happy reunion. That promise is fulfilled on “Early Summer of ‘21,” a catchy song about a day when it’s safe to hug everybody, wait in line for tacos, and feel free again.
The record finishes with the title track, a Chuck Prophet cover. With jangly acoustic guitar, rousing drumming, bold strings, and an anthemic chorus, this is the sound of musicians having fun together. It’s also a reminder that it’s not easy to make a better world, but ultimately that work reveals our humanity. “Love is a hurting thing/ Oh, but love is the only thing anymore," Mulvey and SistaStrings belt out in the refrain. It’s then abundantly clear that the love songs and the protest songs have been about the same thing all along.
Love Is The Only Thing Tracklist:
O My Dear (the Demagogue)
Old Men Drinking Seagram’s
You and (Everybody Else)
Early Summer of ‘21
Five Hundred Days
On the Eve of the Inaugural
Pray for Rain
Song for Michael Brown
Love Is the Only Thing
Catch Peter Mulvey On Tour:
Jun. 10 - Mio, MI - Nor-East'r 2022
Jun. 12 - Rockford, IL - Meridian Music Shed
Jun. 23-25 - Fort Atkinson, WI - The Shi*unauts Live at The Cafe Carpe
July 9-10 - New Bedford, MA - New Bedford Folk Festival
July 28 - Portsmouth, NH - Portsmouth Music Hall w/ Mark Erelli
July 29 - Brownfield, ME - Stone Mountain Arts Center w/ Mark Erelli
July 30 - Concord, NH - Capitol Center for the Arts w/ Mark Erelli
Aug. 18 - Sandwich, NH - John Davidson's Club Sandwich
For more tour dates and ticket information, please visit petermulvey.com
Catch SistaStrings On Tour:
Jun. 21 - Santa Barbara, CA - Santa Barbara Bowl*
Jun. 24-25 - Los Angeles, CA - Greek Theatre*
Aug. 5 - Milwaukee, WI - Fiserv Forum*
Aug. 6 - Chicago, IL - Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island*
Aug. 11 - Salt Lake City, UT - Vivent Arena*
Aug. 18 - Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion#
Aug. 19 - Bethel, NY - Bethel Woods Center For the Arts#
Aug. 20 - Philadelphia, PA - Mann Center For The Performing Arts#
Aug. 24 - London, UK - Omeara^
Sept. 9-10 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks#
Sept. 25 - Bridgeport, CT - Sound on Sound 2022*
Oct. 22 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden*
*performing w/ Brandi Carlile
^performing w/ Allison Russell
#performing w/ Allison Russell and Brandi Carlile