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Folk for men

By Shawn Mullins

Vanguard Records: 2008

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This review first appeared in Turbula in March 2008.

Atlanta singer-songerwriter Shawn Mullins' latest CD is grounded in '70s-styled coffeehouse folk, but leavened with broad streaks of contemporary country and '90s alt rock. The one-time Army paratrooper also manages the rare feat of crafting an introspective folk music that doesn't come across as even faintly feminized.

Blessed with a rich voice and the ability to turn out seductive melodies to hang his lyrics on, Mullins breaks out of the folk mold through the use of some neat arrangements that build up many of the songs to rock- or pop-styled musical climax. He also uses an electric guitar on much of this album to give it a different feeling from most folk. And on "Homeless Joe," he pulls in both a Dobro and a chanted chorus to give the song a blues flavor.

It all still feels like folk, if only because of his quiet, personal way of singing – but it's a very different variety of folk.