Shawn MullinsAlbum: Light You Up (Released 10/12/10)
For fans of: Johnny Cash, The Goo Goo Dolls, James Taylor, Kris Kristofferson
Comedian Mitch Hedberg once said, “I saw a commercial on late night TV, it said, ‘Forget everything you know about slipcovers.’ So I did. And it was a load off my mind. Then the commercial tried to sell me slipcovers, and I didn't know what the hell they were.”
This was kind of my experience with Mullins because I didn’t really know who he was besides his hit song “Lullaby” and the Scrubs “All in My Head.” So in my quest for knowledge on Shawn, I listened to some of his earlier work. I apologize to Mullins fans, but I wasn’t impressed. Then I listened to his new album “Light You Up” and he has completely revamped his whole sound. This is Mullins 11th studio album and it is a significant departure from his previous work.
The album’s beginning has a soft country feel to it with the beginning track “California” that is a fun little homage/jab at The Golden State. The title track “Light You Up” is a risqué mix and has the tonal jumbling of the soft and deep vocals of Mullins with a wailing Santana-esque guitar that is leisurely sexual and enjoyable. Here's him playing the song in Georgia:
The total album has a relaxed feel to it and offers lyrical substance in most of the songs. The problem is that not every song plays to its potential. “No Blue Sky” in particular is tiresome and a song that I never really connected with. I did, though, enjoy the reverence to Johnny Cash in a couple of his songs, but Mullins isn’t all about emulation and he is definitely attempting to carve his own musical niche. The slow twangy guitar songs are not generally my ideal form of music, but upon listening to the album several times, it’s easy to get lost in it. “Catoosa County” is one of those songs that is a real joy to listen to. It has this proverbial folk mix of guitar, fiddle and banjo that you could imagine Woody Guthrie playing. Then we launch into “You Make it Better” which is a faster driven guitar and drum song that adds a little diversity to the album.
The album has its ups and downs, but mostly ups. If you are or aren't a fan of Mullins' previous work, you should still give this album a chance. Who knows? Light You Up is the perfect new ad campaign for forgetting everything you ever knew about Shawn Mullins and introducing yourself to a newly formed artist.