Shawn Mullins : honeydew

shawn_mullins_honeydew.jpgThe pains of life too often fuel inspiration, as in the case of Shawn Mullins and his new long-player, honeydew.

According to the veteran songwriter, the album began taking shape in 2006 when his mother passed, followed by the death of his dog, and compounded by a burglary of this home, the intruders taking his favorite guitar and his computer used for writing songs. The resulting album captures a series of very personal vignettes, stories of people and places that Mullins has known and loved.

“All In My Head” kicks off the album with the fitting line, “I’m just trying to get by, I’m just looking for a new high,” Mullins’ winsome vocals exposing vulnerability beneath a cracked shell. “The Ballad of Kathryn Johnston” laments a tragic story of misidentification, pulled from the headlines in Atlanta, Ga, unfolding above a modest country-rock groove. “Leaving All Your Troubles Behind” makes escape from the twisted world of trailer-park meth seem as sketchy as the wirey guitar lead that guides the song.

Mullins’ plain-spoken style makes honeydew an endearing song cycle that, while written about the South, illustrates characters that can be found most anywhere. While the pace of the album slows through the second half, it remains captivating, the people and places dripping with vivid detail and inherent familiarity.

Honeydew is out now on Vanguard Records.