Shawn Mullins, "My Stupid Heart" (Sugar Hill/Rounder)
Whether he's singing at a festival, in a roadhouse or on a pool deck, well-traveled troubadour Shawn Mullins knows how to command an audience. Alas, past studio albums failed to capture the knowing warmth of his smoky baritone.
"My Stupid Heart" is different, and Mullins sounds terrific in a wide range of styles, summoning gospel fervor on "Ferguson," leading a singalong on "Sunshine," and settling into a sultry sway on "Go and Fall."
The Georgia-based singer-songwriter follows his jazz muse down to low F on "Pre-Apocalyptic Blues," a hilarious mix of survivalist paranoia and Dixieland feel-good that rings too true. Mostly the thrice-divorced Mullins contemplates love sweet and soured, wearing his heart on his album sleeve.
An excellent supporting cast includes Chuck Cannon, who helped compose six of the 10 songs, and stellar guitarist Tom Bukovac. Credit producer Lari White, who doubles as Cannon's wife, for getting Mullins at his best on the record.