Friday, June 09, 2006

Music Review -- 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor by Shawn Mullins

9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor is Shawn Mullins’ first solo disc since Beneath the Velvet Sun in 2000. BVS saw Mullins turn more electric and radio friendly after his brilliant breakthrough with Soul’s Core. Mullins also was 1/3 of the band The Thorns which put out their only disc in ’03.

I hate to pick on Mullin too much because he has crafted so many great singer-songwriter tunes in the last few years. On 9th Ward, however, he allows the disc to be too uneven as he jumps from folk to country to blues to soul music. This would not be such a bad thing, except that he is so much better at folky and rootsy styles. Also, on some songs his baritone voice seems almost monotone and the lyrics are barely adequate.

When he writes a good tune with decent accompaniment, though, the result is great. The opener, Blue As You, is a wonderful tune as Mullins sings, “I like my daylight to be silver/I like my night skies to be blue/ Blue as you.” On the radio release Beautiful Wreck he writes, “I’ve lost count of the times I’ve given up on you/But you make such a beautiful wreck you do.” Mullins also included some moving songs like We Could Go and Start Again and Kelly’s Song. While, there are some definite missteps on 9th Ward, its worth the listen for its high points, though I hope his next effort is more focused.

2.15 out of 4.00 on the Vin Swanson Scale.

Listening to this feels like the moment you begin to admit to yourself that you’re lost and then you suddenly realize you’re home.

No comments: