Shawn Mullins release surprisingly poignant

Light fingers dance across strings as the Shawn Mullins new Vanguard release, “9th Ward Pickin Parlor,” starts in with “Blue as You.” The light, acoustical piece inspires barefoot dancing in the kitchen with your bo or bess and soft smiles in dim rooms.

The beat picks up with “Beautiful Wreck,” which breaks out traditional country riffs to bring out the boot scooter in anyone.

Soon the album lives up to its name as the steel picking leads into “Cold Black Heart,” a song about a classic country love. The picking is continued in “Talkin’ Goin’ to Alaska Blues,” with some traditional banjo work and light lyrics. In “Kelly’s Song,” he brings out his style with a guitar and breaks out the classic train whistling ‘whoot’ warning listeners that they are about to be run over with a quality song.

“Faith,” the radio track from this album, combines light acoustical intros with electric riffs and soft lyrics to make a quality song that even those who dislike country could appreciate. This song borders on a classic rock ballad with the emoted lines pushed over the ever-changing music.

Dark, deep vocals lead into “Homemade Wine” and bring flashbacks of the old Garth Brooks favorite “The Thunder Rolls.” The song helps this album cover the whole country genre with each subtype and any sound desired.

Many Mullins fans are having trouble putting this February release away. Critics are comparing the album to releases from artists such as David Gray and John Hiatt.

The album is a must-have for any country fan and a must hear for anyone who claims to hate country. Mullins challenges critics of the genre with wonderful finger work and a vocal variety able to please any listener’s taste.

The 9th ward pickin’ parloris a recording studio in New Orleans owned by Mike West. It is inside a house located on Dauphine Street, which is next to the levee.

Mullins said, “Mike made it out of the city before Katrina, but the studio is a total loss.”

He describes the album as a blend of folk, country, blues and rock dedicated to the people of New Orleans.

Mullins will be at the Cactus Caf in Austin on the 23rd and the 24th with Clay Cook. He will be in Dallas at Poor David’s Pub on the 25th. Check out for more information and more tour dates.

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