Live at the Variety Playhouse
Storytellers, especially good ones, are fading faster than Taylor Hicks’ career. There is one in particular that has been playing for almost two decades, creating and performing stories to hundreds of thousands of people. But it took until now for Shawn Mullins to release his first live album. Live at the Variety Playhouse takes two of his Atlanta performances, one a stripped-down acoustic show and the other a more polished electric show and mashes them into a perfect mix of hits and fan favorites.
The album opens with the 9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor favorite “Beautiful Wreck” and then flows right into “All in My Head” and “The Ballad of Kathryn Johnston” from his latest studio effort honeydew. It also includes three of my favorite Mullins tunes from his breakthrough album Soul’s Core: the beautiful “Shimmer” and the stories of “Twin Rocks, Oregon” and “The Gulf of Mexico” where he croons “I heard a voice from my soul’s core/ Saying freedom’s just a metaphor.”
Having previously listened to most of these songs a number of times on his studio albums, now hearing them in a concert setting proves just how engaging he is as a singer and a storyteller. Whether he’s singing about a soulless salesman on the haunting “Fraction of a Man” or about hard times on “Cabbagetown,” it is obvious that every note and chord is coming straight from his soul. His voice grabs your attention through every word and the music keeps it until the last chord on “House of the Rising Sun.”
Live at the Variety Playhouse is like a live greatest-hits record for Shawn Mullins. Anybody who thought that he was a one-hit wonder with “Lullaby,” which is also included here, needs to listen to this album. They are guaranteed to be hooked.
Shawn Mullins: www.shawnmullins.com