With his new album, Mullins draws ever closer to a breakthrough, thanks to some of the strongest songs he’s ever written.
Atlanta-born artist Shawn Mullins has always been a terrific singer/songwriter, as well as a crowd pleasing entertainer, but up until now, his broader fame rested with the song “Lullaby", an unusually infectious ballad culled from an early album called Soul’s Core and successful enough to land him on the Top 40 and get him Grammy consideration as well. He’s gained attention on other occasions as well. His song “Shimmer” was used in the popular teen drama “Dawson’s Creek” and later tapped as a part of a promotional campaign for the 2000 Summer Olympics, while another of his numbers, “All in My Head” was featured in the soundtrack for the network television show “Scrubs.” A later single, “Beautiful Wreck", from the excellent album Ninth Ward Pickin’ Parlor also made a brief appearance on the charts although it didn’t linger nearly as long as it should have. Likewise, a brief stint as part of a supergroup of sorts called the Thorns found him rubbing shoulders with Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge. The band’s sole album was boasted a superb soft rock sensibility, but didn’t achieve the notoriety which it so clearly deserved.
That leaves Mullins being known only to a devoted few, teasingly close to a big breakthrough that’s clearly eluded him thus far. With his new album, My Stupid Heart, he draws ever closer, thanks to some of the strongest songs he’s ever written. The rakish narrative “It All Comes Down to Love” may be the one track closest to “Lullaby", at least in terms of style and set-up, but it’s ballads like “The Great Unknown” and the title track that are most memorable, introspective but indelible and incredibly resilient to boot. Still, the most immediate impression comes via “Never Gonna Let Her Go", a song sung from the perspective of a man who realizes his woman is less than ideal but finds her spellbinding nonetheless. The rustic arrangement owes a debt to the early Band, but it’s the irresistible refrain that simply refuses to let go.
Ultimately, it’s no single song that makes this record so superb, but rather the realization that with this latest album, Shawn Mullins has not only produced his best effort to date, but also an one that ought to ensure him immortality, a collection of bittersweet songs that ought to stand the test of time. “Everybody needs a little sunshine," Mullins croons on “Sunshine”, one of the final songs of the set. It’s a stirring coda to a collection that speaks volumes about overcoming odds and pushing forward. Indeed, Mullins’ career has found him doing exactly that and working towards results that might finally pay off. With My Stupid Heart he’s made the smart move his fans have always known he’s capable of.