Photo: David McLister / Courtesy of Conqueroo

Shawn Mullins Returns With New Electric and Acoustic Renditions of #1 Hit “Lullaby” (premiere)

Shawn Mullins celebrates the 20th anniversary of album Soul's Core with new two-disc set featuring acoustic and electric renditions of old favorites and some new insights as well.

Shawn Mullins is celebrating an important milestone this fall. Or a few, actually. It’s the 20th anniversary of his #1 song, “Lullaby”. Additionally, he’s recently completed two studio versions of his 1998 LP, Soul’s Core. Titled Soul’s Core Revival, the two-disc set features an acoustic version and a full-band take on the LP. The set arrives 16 November via his own Carnival Records and may be ordered here.

Rather than merely reissue the album, Mullins opted to recreate it, providing a fresh take on the songs, allowing the intervening years to inform the new performances for himself and his audience.

The initial album served as the Atlanta singer-songwriter’s major label debut, placed well on the album charts and introduced him to a wider, international audience. It also, of course, featured “Lullaby”.

On the acoustic set, the singer-songwriter introduces each of the tracks, providing insights into their compositions and more.

On crafting “Lullaby” Mullins describes: “I was listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell and I was trying to figure out her tunings. Somehow I ended up with kind of an open G tuning, but it has two low Gs. Which doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Kinda like a dulcimer, that’s the sound I was going for because a lot of the songs on that Blue album I was listening to, she was playing the dulcimer. I think that where the guitar part came from even though I ended up playing it very different than what she would do.

“I had just seen Ani (DiFranco) play for the first time, and it blew my mind. I had never seen anyone play a guitar like that. It was unbelievable. She was playing guitar with all five fingers on her right hand. It was like Punk-Flamenco —unbelievable; it just blew my mind — I was either gonna quit right then and there at the end of the night, or I was gonna get better. It really inspired me.

“So, it ended up, in a way, somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco.”

As for the writing of the song Mullins remembers it this way: “The story is a whole ‘another thing: the story is really told in the song. Although, I made up a lot of stuff to make it probably a little more dramatic. Because the real person in the song, Jodi, she’s got it together pretty good. She’s hangin’ in the there; she’s doing just fine. And, she’s a great storyteller too.”

The acoustic version spotlights Mullins’ emotive lyrics and vulnerable vocals, further cementing his reputation as a world-class troubadour capable of speaking to the hearts of the lonely and those who will be. The electric take lacks none of the vulnerability or emotions, and yet the recasting is a remarkable feat, its chorus lifting the listener to soaring heights, the dynamics becoming not more pronounced but pronounced with a different accent. More than that, the story remains familiar and fresh.

For the band-centered set, Mullins worked with multi-instrumentalist Randall Bramblett (Bonnie Raitt, Steve Winwood) as well as singer-songwriter Michelle Malone and drummer/producer Gerry “Gator” Hansen. Radoslav Lorkovic ( accordion and keys), Davis Causey and Patrick Blanchard (guitars), Tom Ryan (bass and sax), and Wayne Postell (trumpet) also joined in. Soul Core‘s original engineer Glenn Matullo returned, and engineer/mixer John Keane (R.E.M., Indigo Girls, Widespread Panic) joined in on recordings that took place at Keane’s studio in Athens, Georgia.