NORWALK — The stacks of boxes throughout the empty apartment were Devan Mulvaney’s only company as he mixed his first album in August 2015.
“I like to turn up the sound when no one else is around,” opens a slowly rolling, dreamily textured track titled “Oh Those Damn Butterflies.” “Don’t forget your mother, don’t forget your father, don’t forget your sister …”
He was in father’s recording studio, located in the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn house. They had recently sold the place — hence, the boxes — but were out of town with his sister to help high school summer campers write and perform their own musical, something the Mulvaneys did every year. The resulting play, known as the “God Show,” was also shown in Norwalk, where Devan Mulvaney had grown up and the family was still involved.
And so he was alone among his family’s boxed-up possessions when a BMW veered onto the median of the Taconic State Parkway near Yorktown Heights, N.Y., as his parents and sister drove home. The vehicle went airborne and landed on two cars in the southbound lane. One of them was the Mulvaneys’.
Mulvaney described the period that followed as chaotic stretch of endless logistics, changing apartments and going through possessions. He and his girlfriend moved first to Weston to be close to the hospital while his father remained unconscious, then moved to Austin, Texas, where he had spent a summer in college.
“We were like, we’ve got to start our lives again, or at least begin to,” he said.
But throughout the tumult, the album gave him a sense of direction.
“It was a total saving grace to have a project to work on that entire time,” he said. “It helped ground me in the real world where everything else was spinning.”
Mulvaney booked a studio for a week to finish mixing the album, then went back to Brooklyn in January of 2017 to master it with Paul Gold, who has helped fine-tune the works of artists such as LCD Soundsystem, Animal Collective and Surfjan Stevens.
While Mulvaney finished recording before the crash (any seeming references speak to the universal quality of his lyrics), he said the album’s meaning has since evolved.
“It was important not just for myself, but in honor of my family, to try to continue their legacy of music,” he said.
The album, “Whippersnapper,” came out Friday. Mulvaney will come to Easton on Oct. 21 to perform at Fiddledale and to New York City on Oct. 23 to perform at Rockwood Music Hall. Doors for the Easton show open at 7 p.m., and doors for the New York show open at 5:45 p.m.
For his performances, Mulvaney stands on the stage alone and recreates the layers of his music by playing some of the parts from a drum machine and looping his own performance live.
“It is important to me in my healing process to play shows and get this stuff out there and try to build a life again,” Mulvaney said. “It’s me trying to continue my family’s legacy and follow my dreams.”