West Sterling Music
Scott Mulvahill is a freakish talent – blessed with a great voice and phenomenal bass playing skills. And he puts them together to bottle lightning across a lot of Himalayas.
His pedigree is assured – you don’t spend any amount of time playing in Ricky Skaggs’ band unless you are the fucking best. And Mulvahill sure is.
He’s joined here at various points by some of that great alumni – Jerry Douglas, Skaggs himself – but perhaps Himalayas and Mulvahill himself is at his best playing the one-man-gang. It’s a sincere party trick. Opener, Begin Againers, is like modern mountain-soul – a solo gospel piece that features the hypnotic sway of Mulvahill’s bass and his own lead and harmony vocals. It’s hard not to feel the perfect energy of this – lovely and skilled and all things for all people really. If anything maybe just a little too clean.
And that’s ultimately the one criticism here – this all shines just a little too bright. The cover of Paul Simon’s Homeless feels like a High School Musical/Glee take when it should be astounding, certainly when Mulvahill’s bass prods and nudges along with the “He-ha-he-ha-he” backing vocals it’s wonderful. But perhaps the bright shiny bow that you can feel wrapped tight on the top of each tune is the problem this time around.
Can something be too good?
That’s my issue with this album. A strange complaint perhaps. But it’s all just a bit too ‘Smiling Teeth’ for my liking. I want a bit more grit. I get the heart. The soul. But this has a new car smell attached. Fighting For The Wrong Side is another showcase of just how extraordinary Scott Mulvahill is – a very real talent. Virtuoso singer and player, decent songwriter too. He’s an arranger, producer – a very multi-talented guy.
But I guess I just want to see some or smell some hint of the shit on his boot-heels from the many miles on the road.
Maybe we’ll get that next time. Meanwhile you could do a lot worse than check this out. And you get the feeling Mulvahill is so good he couldn’t do any worse than this if he tried. The effortless grace here is certainly compelling.