9th Ward Pickin' Parlor

9th Ward Pickin' Parlor

5.0 2
by Shawn Mullins
     
 
The Ninth Ward referred to in the title of the latest release by erstwhile singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins is the New Orleans neighborhood where he recorded the disc -- before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area. Other than a cover of the classic "House of the Rising Sun" -- which builds intriguingly from mournful acoustic beginnings to a full-throttle electric outro -

Overview

The Ninth Ward referred to in the title of the latest release by erstwhile singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins is the New Orleans neighborhood where he recorded the disc -- before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area. Other than a cover of the classic "House of the Rising Sun" -- which builds intriguingly from mournful acoustic beginnings to a full-throttle electric outro -- he doesn't delve all that deeply into the Crescent City's innate sound. He does, however, capture its restless spirit, calling on previously untapped influences such as gospel (the bedrock of the insistent "Faith") and medieval British folk (which imbues the mandolin-laced "Cold Black Heart" with a palpable sense of portent). Fans who came to know Mullins's work through his hit "Lullaby" will find a few things to like here -- notably "Blue as You," which was co-written by his Thorns bandmates Pete Droge and Matthew Sweet -- but for the most part, the disc eschews pop convention to document Mullins's explorations of the roots of American music. To his credit, he not only manages to excavate some fascinating stuff but also to put enough personal spin on the unearthed material to make it his own.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
Not surprisingly, Shawn Mullins' association with Sony didn't last long. His sophomore release for the label never found its intended audience, and with eclectic singer/songwriters not exactly in vogue in 2005, he found a more comfortable and logical home at Vanguard. Here was a company that thrived on, and had successful experience with, promoting other artists with idiosyncratic folk and folk-rock styles similar to Mullins. The feeling was mutual, since Mullins delivers a gem of an album with 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor. With acoustic tracks recorded at the titular New Orleans studio, pre-Hurricane Katrina, Mullins has crafted a diverse offering that encompasses folk, rock, Celtic, and country, often interlocking in the same tune. He aims for early Black Crowes territory on the gospel-laced "Faith," and gives a personal spin to a self-penned murder ballad "Cold Black Heart," which is dominated by his work on charango, an Andean mandolin. The mandolin also plays a prominent role in "Homemade Wine," a moody story-song ballad about leaving town that takes advantage of Mullins' deep, expressive voice. "All Fall Down" finds its rocking heart in the Beatles' "I Want You," especially as it builds in intensity with circular chords that accentuate the melody. The disc's first single, the harder-edged "Beautiful Wreck," is also better than anything on the short-lived Thorns' project, a band in which Mullins shared the stage with Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge (Droge helped co-write the track). Mullins goes traditional religious on the waltz-timed "Lay Down Your Swords, Boys," which culminates in full Salvation-Army-band mode with backing vocals. Mullins taps into his inner James Taylor on the bluesy "Solitaire," and closes out the album with a moving version of "House of the Rising Sun" that builds from acoustic to electric instrumentation as the singer interestingly takes the original female voice of the protagonist. The song seems to be his tribute to New Orleans, a city whose dusky atmosphere has subtly contributed to Shawn Mullins' most poignant, cohesive, and diverse album yet.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/14/2006
Label:
Vanguard Records
UPC:
0015707980722
catalogNumber:
79807
Rank:
67514

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Shawn Mullins   Primary Artist,Vocals
Rob Gal   Electric Guitar
David LaBruyere   Electric Bass
Kenny Malone   Conga,Cymbals,Bells,Djembe,Rainstick
David Patterson   Electric Guitar
Peter Stroud   Electric Guitar
William Tonks   Lap Steel Guitar,Guitar (Resonator)
Mike West   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Mandolin,Choir, Chorus,Banjolin,Guitar (Resonator)
Chris Thile   Mandolin
Brandon Bush   Accordion,Hammond Organ,Wurlitzer
Glenn Matullo   Choir, Chorus
Kevin Leahy   Vibes
Rob Henson   Upright Bass
Matt Mangano   Electric Bass
Gerry Hansen   Drums,Maracas,Tambourine,Shaker,Hand Drums
Chuck Hoseman   Choir, Chorus

Technical Credits

Matthew Sweet   Composer
Pete Droge   Composer
Russ Fowler   Engineer
Gary Paczosa   Engineer
Shawn Mullins   Composer,Producer
Mike West   Engineer
Georgette Cartwright   Creative Services Coordinator
Marshall Altman   Composer
Glenn Matullo   Engineer
Robin Geary   Photo Stylist
Traditional   Composer
Clay Cook   Engineer
Stephen Brower   Marketing
Gerry Hansen   Engineer
Shannan Shepard   Photo Stylist

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9th Ward Pickin' Parlor 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After a long wait Shawn's first album with Vanguard is classic Shawn. Lots of string instruments and of course ,the unmistakable voice. Shawn is a great story teller with his music and this album contains songs for the folk music lover as well as a few we should hear on the radio.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased this for the "Beautiful Wreck" track and was blown away by the entire CD. He mixes the energy well: solemn, soulful, steering-wheel thumping ("Cold Black Heart"). Love "Blue As You." It's a good thing this isn't on vinyl or I would be wearing out the grooves.