Shawn Mullins may be the same person deep down inside after his major label debut Soul’s Core but he has matured both as a songwriter and a guitarist over the last two years. Part of that has to do with his touring of the world, constantly meeting new people and refining his guitar playing ability. The other part probably stemmed from the confidence he gained during the run of his mammoth singles “Lullaby” and “Shimmer”.
On Beneath the Velvet Sun, Mullins shows he is not just a one album wonder, but a sincere artist who has the uncanny ability to tell great stories, with commercial success at the bottom of his priority list. He’s actually gotten some of that though, with the lead off single “Everywhere I Go”, a track with a rich guitar chord texture.
In terms of story telling, there is “Up All Night”, a track in which Mullins speaks of the trials a duo of rock star wannabes have while traveling the world as members of a band. Because of their lack of talent and carelessness, they wind up getting thrown in jail. Another great picture is painted on “Amy’s Eyes”, a tender acoustic ballad about his 13-year-old niece, and seeing the world through the eyes of a child.
Mullins could be a modern day Byrds member or a Bob Dylan in the making. He also blends the southern rock styles of Neil Young and the country twang of Hank Williams on both “Lonesome I Know You” and “Santa De”. Additional country influences shine through on “Somethin’ To Believe In” and “We Run”. Wallflowers guitarist Michael Ward also lends his skills to four tracks on the album, highlighting Mullins usual acoustic sound with some electric riffs.
This 13-song collection is a wonderful addition to any rock fan’s library and Mullins’ moderate variety is enjoyable. It’s by far his best work to date and shows how far he’s come since his starving independent recording days 10 years ago.
// Notes from the Road
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