Mutlu is a singer/songwriter from Philadelphia, PA. He’s of Turkish descent but you wouldn’t guess that from his music. The songs on Good Trouble run the gamut of American styles, ranging from soul to reggae to gentle balladeering. He sings with a sweet voice, even though his cries for social justice – which happens a lot during this album – are not always all that sugary.
Opener, “Lifeline,” begins with a sparse instrumental arrangement. It’s built upon a handclap rhythm and layered vocals. With it, Mutlu sings about saying a prayer for the next generation. It’s an old-fashioned social justice plea.
With “Not Escapable,” Mutlu vocalizes about trying to escape all the negativity in the world, but as he repeats on the chorus, this darkness is ‘not escapable.’ Musically, this song is placed upon a reggae beat. It’s not your typical reggae instrumentation, however, as it also includes mandolin helping to hold down its rhythm. On one hand, Mutlu sounds to be trying to get away from all the pressing issues of life. And yet, Mutlu doesn’t strike one as the type to run and hide. It also might be taken as a call to action: You shouldn’t escape what’s out there.
Mutlu gets his soulful self on with”95 to 5.” The music is funky. However, it utilizes a lot of acoustic guitar, in addition to dance-y bass and drums. The song’s lyric talks about how we all need to work hard, even though sometimes all our efforts don’t really seem get us anywhere. It’s difficult when we see others seemingly taking it easy, not even putting in a lot of effort, yet having more materially than they may ever need. Yet, here the rest of us are, working our butts off, giving it all we have, but it’s almost as though we’re running in place. This song also includes a righteous electric guitar solo and a vocal ‘nah nah nah’ part.
The album’s saddest song is “Scarred,” which is over a quiet acoustic guitar part. Whereas many of the songs on this album are performed with heartfelt optimism, this one includes the line, “I know our best days are long gone.” It’s the opposite of optimistic. This is not looking forward with confidence; it’s looking back with regret, instead. It begins extra sadly with, “Try to pretend like I still care.” You know when a song starts with that much of a downer, it’s not really going to get a whole lot better after that. And it doesn’t.
“Nothing in this Whole Wide World” is a love song where Mutlu expresses his certainty about finding Miss Right. “Ain’t no doubt about it,” Mutlu sings, like a jury that’s come to an unchangeable verdict. Mutlu has worked with the popular duo Hall & Oates a lot over the years, and this song features half that pair, John Oates, on it.
Mutlu sings about the musician’s lifestyle with “Work For It.” It speaks of all the travel and effort involved in being a musical artist. Yes, he must travel great distances, but when he encounters warm smiles, it’s worth it all. He also knows that ‘haters’ aren’t ever going to slow him down, even though they might try and stop him.
Good Trouble ends with a sweet soul song called “Oh My Girl.” It’s a nice way to conclude the album. After all the album’s heaviness, this is simple ode to a good woman. But whether the songs are heavy or light, Mutlu is sincerely soulful throughout.