Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy

Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy

(Shout! Factory)

First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2010, Volume 17, #4

Written by John Metzger

Mon April 5, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT

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Most tribute albums obtain their commercial appeal either by highlighting the work of a well-known artist or by targeting a lucrative niche market. Arguably, a collection that is devoted to the work of Mark Mulcahy wouldn’t fall into either of these categories. Therefore, even purveyors of the indie-rock scene likely have been scratching their heads in puzzlement over the release of Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy. Thom Yorke, Michael Stipe, Frank Black, Dinosaur Jr., and Josh Rouse are among the stars who leant their time and energy to the affair. Their presence provides the project with a much-needed angle for an organized public relations campaign on behalf of the endeavor.

Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy undeniably gained greater attention because of its carefully cultivated guest list. In the end, however, the profile of its star-packed line-up is irrelevant. Instead of towering over the affair, the assembled collaborators slip effortlessly into the emotional slipstream of the endeavor. As a result, regardless of who participated in the project — and regardless of one’s familiarity with Mulcahy’s output — the raison d’etre of Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy shines loudly and clearly. It gives the collection its resonance and allows the set to stand entirely on its own.

Before heading out as a solo act, Mulcahy served as the guiding force behind Miracle Legion and Polaris. In late 2008, his wife Melissa passed away unexpectedly, leaving Mulcahy to care for the couple’s three-year-old twins. In desperate need of cash, his friends came to his aid, helping to assemble Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy. Considering that the collection was pieced together from songs that span his career, the resulting effort sounds remarkably cohesive.

Twenty-one of Mulcahy’s compositions are reinterpreted on Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy. No matter when they were written, it feels as if they are speaking entirely about the life and death of his wife. The electronic noises that Yorke and Stipe applied to All for the Best and Everything’s Coming Undone, respectively, feed the disoriented air of uncertainty that undoubtedly enveloped Mulcahy at the moment when his world was suddenly ripped apart. Elsewhere, his angst and anger are represented by the stabbing guitars that swipe at Bill Jocko and the intentionally broken melodic underpinnings of In Pursuit of Your Happiness, while Mulcahy’s sorrow pours through the hushed intimacy of Little Man and the softly mournful title track.

Still, there are moments when hope and optimism arise and keep Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy from becoming an overly gloomy affair. On I Have Patience, Butterflies of Love bends a glam-infused arrangement around a chugging R.E.M.-like groove; Chris Collingwood draws upon the bubbly power-pop of XTC during Cookie Jar. While it is true that Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy is bloated with redundancies, it also does a solid job of outlining Mulcahy’s potential, thereby providing him with a short-term economic boost as well as a foundation upon which to build his future. starstarstar

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Of Further Interest...

Rhett Miller - The Believer

Nirvana - Unplugged in New York (DVD)

Laura Veirs - Year of Meteors

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Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy
is available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2010 The Music Box