Mullin’ it Over
A Trad Country- Gospel Album Cleverly Straddling Camp and Sincerity.
Mick Mullin certainly has the right geographical and cultural credentials for the music he’s making – “The son of a Kentucky coal miner’s daughter and a Tennessee Bible editor, ” growing up in Nashville surrounded by the sounds of his family’s beloved Baptist hymns, classic Rock ‘n’ Roll and, of course Country.
This, his second full length release is a collection of traditional Country tunes with enough quirks and loveable oddness to entertain absolutely everyone throughout.
“Thank God they Closed the Honky Tonks” has the tongue-in-cheek seriousness of many a Country tune sitting musically somewhere between Hank Snr and Alan Jackson – Mullins’ delivery is quite idiosyncratic – no disrespect but he has an old sounding voice that belies his younger looks!
“Bristol 1927” tells the story of the historically famous recording sessions that kickstarted the Country genre and features backing and shared vocals from Hannah Juanita and it shuffles along in a pleasant and steady waltz time.
A sense of place and time is similarly evoked on “August in New Orleans” which features saxophone to add a little of a jazzy, Western-swing feel into the musical mix -it also features the hilarious refrain of “it’s too hot to love you darling”, which anyone who’s been to Louisiana at that time of year, will heartily agree with!
“Lettin’ Love Speak for Itself” is laced with bluesy dobro and awkward emotions expressed honestly – and it works. Taking a different turn is “Small Black Gun” which tells the story of “Long Black Veil” from the viewpoint of the real killer in the song – it borrows from the rhythm and musical setting of the original and it follows in a long country tradition of “answer” songs. It’s an interesting musical curio, especially for fans of the genre.
The Twang and Blues quotient goes up a notch with the walking bass driven “Foolish Son;” before things take a more tongue in cheek/emotionally dark turn on “Keep All my Roses” telling the all too common tale of a relationship gone mega awkward when he finds his partner “alone in bed with another man/my dear friend and the drummer of the band” – but the show must go on; of course.
A Drifting Cowboys style intro then leads into a cover of John Prine’s “You Never Even Call Me by My Name” – Mullins’ cover takes the song back to its classic country core and it’s a perfect arrangement.
Mullin even finds the time to take a new look at “Long Black Veil” through the eyes of the real killer on the hauntingly Gothic “Small Black Gun.”
The biggest musical shift takes place on the penultimate track, Wouldn’t it Be Wonderful, where a Hammond organ leads into a string-backed, Gospel influenced song that might not affect a non-believer like me too much lyrically; but which easily wins more Religious thinking listeners over musically; and that Country-Gospel theme closes the albumin a more uptempo manner with the Bluegrass flavoured “Do You Know Where You’ll Go?”
All in all, this is a release worthy of the attention of any fan of older, Traditional Country and Gospel too – cleverly straddling the line between camp and sincerity at different points …. and often at the same time!
Review by Nick Barber
RELEASED October 29th 2021
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