#143 Shawn Mullins – 9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor (2006)

If your familiar with Shawn Mullins at all it is most likely from his 1998 hit “Lullaby”. Some would consider him a “one hit wonder”, they would be very wrong. Shawn is a true artist who had the hit he deserved. He released a follow-up album in 2000 to very little fan fare. He would wait 6 years before he would head back into the studio to record this effort in 2006. He decided to cut this record in New Orleans 9th Ward, and the darker mood of The Big Easy is palpable on this disc. He actually received some radio airplay locally on Cities 97 with “Beautiful Wreck” and cut a hauntingly beautiful acoustic version in Studio C that was included in that years Cities Sampler vol.18. This is by far my favorite song by Shawn. A wonderfully sad love song about a co-dependants love for an alcoholic. The lyrics are thoughtful and non judgemental, and it shows Mullins talent for first person songwriting. He has the ability to slip into character and deliver. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve given up on you, but you make such a beautiful wreck, ya do & there’s a tavern on the corner called the Milky Way & you look so at home there it makes me afraid….if you have not heard this song go to iTunes and spend the $1.29, you’ll thank me. The track that follows it is one of the other stand out efforts on the record ” Cold Black Heart”. It tells the classic story of the cheating partner and shooting her and her lover down. The music is exquisite with a quick, heavy back beat and a mandolin accompaniment that gives the song an almost country feel and climaxes when he shoots down that cheating whore Maggie Brown and her lover. Mullins closes out this effort with an homage to New Orleans with his interpretation of the traditional hymn “The House of the Rising Sun”. And he owns it and makes it his. Many artists have recorded this song over the years from Bob Dylan to Dolly Parton. The most popular was the version recorded by Eric Burden & the Animals in the 1960’s. If they heard Shawn’s version they would never attempt to play it again, it’s that good and it is in my estimation the definitive version of this song. In-between the aforementioned songs there are other good offerings such as “Faith” & “Homemade Wine” and most are done with an acoustic folk rock twinge and they go down very easy with a couple of Whiskey 7’s. Overall it’s not as strong from start to finish as “Soul’s Core”, but the high points are out of the park.

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