9th Ward Pickin' Parlor
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2006, Volume 13, #2
Written by John Metzger
Before Lullaby became a Top 10 hit and earned him a Grammy nomination, Shawn Mullins was living the life of an independent artist, relentlessly touring the country with his dog Roadie and selling CDs out of the back of a van. His flirtation with major label Columbia, however, was short-lived, and though it applied its marketing muscle to Soulís Core and funded the subsequent Beneath the Velvet Sun, Mullins since has slipped back into relative obscurity. Now, five years later, he has resurfaced with Vanguard, a label to which he is better suited, and in crafting his latest effort 9th Ward Pickiní Parlor, he has removed much of the polish that graced his previous endeavor to reveal that his gift for wrapping emotionally charged confessionals inside shimmering, pop-imbued melodies remains largely intact. Granted, thereís nothing groundbreaking about the collection ó Blue as You is a lovely, if lightweight love song; Faith is an impassioned blast of gospel-blues that is situated somewhere between Elton John and The Black Crowes; and Beautiful Wreck bounces along like a country-tinged rendition of The Wallflowers ó though there also isnít anything on the set that comes anywhere close to being truly dreadful. Instead, 9th Ward Pickiní Parlor demonstrates that while the music business sometimes can shatter the dreams of its rising stars, Mullins has opted to pick up the pieces of his career and mend them back together with grace, dignity, and a newfound sense of maturity.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box