Beneath the Velvet Sun
Shawn Mullins’ résumé reads like a VH-1 Behind the Music script. For 10 years, the Atlanta singer-songwriter played clubs, developed his chops and assembled acoustic demos into self-published CDs. Then, whammo!—a local DJ put “Lullabye” off his 1998 CD Soul’s Core into rotation, and major labels came knocking. His hard work has paid off; this disc contains a superb marriage of mature songwriting and full-bodied, smartly arranged production. Mullins adds a full band plus loops, eccentric keyboards, trip-hop flourishes, banjos and trumpets to his own acoustic leads, creating a heady, diverse mix. Dense urban grooves (“I Know”) counterpoint spare country-folk (“Somethin’ to Believe In”) and melodic rock (“Everywhere I Go”). Best of all, Mullins’ expanding sonic palette hasn’t diluted the bite of his observant lyrics; he’s grown considerably as an artist without losing an ounce of heart or vision.