Shawn Mullins is a legend. At least in my book. Yes, most people recognize the spoken/sung "Lullaby" from his 1997 album "Soul’s Core," but what people don’t realize is that he had already been releasing fantastic music 10 years before that. Now, over two decades since his first album, Mullins has released his magnum opus to date. From beginning to end, "Honeydew" is nothing short of a masterpiece.
The first single and opening track, "All in My Head" is an ode to the hard-working blue-collar worker just "tryin’ to do the best I can." It’s a great sing-a-long complete with a "Na na na" chorus.
"The Ballad of Kathryn Johnston" is an alt-rock classic that’s better than anything alt-rock darling Ryan Adams has mustered up. It’s Mullins at his storytelling best. "Now my city hangs her head in shame/ Can’t tell the truth from all the lies/ Everything changed forever/ Everything stayed the same/ On the night Miss Johnston died."
"Homeless Joe" sounds like an improv number that was made in an alley in a run-down town in Alabama. This is quintessential dirty southern blues.
"See That Train" channels Eric Clapton’s opening riff from "Lay Down Sally."
The acoustic "Fraction of a Man" however, sounds as if Mullins is channeling Bob Dylan. When he sings, "My old friend Larry/ Looking kinda scary/ Wonders if he’s running out of time," then breaks into a soft harmonica solo, makes me want to do something more with my life. Mullins pulls every ounce of emotion out of the lyrics.
Australian alt-rocker Kasey Chambers aids Mullins on the lonely "Cabbagetown." Chambers’ vocals add additional depth to an already emotional song.
"Honeydew" is Shawn Mullins at his finest. His storytelling has always been great, but he is at the top of his game right now. This is a must-have for anyone who thinks that Mullins is just that guy who sang that "Rock-a-bye" song.