There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Atlanta native Shawn Mullins is a man unafraid to let his influences shine. In fact, on the 32-year-old singer-songwriter’s debut album, Soul’s Core, all 50-plus of his musical heroes are given ample voice, making for a refreshingif schizoidlisten. Mullins, a folk-rock troubadour who has seen too many roadhouses in his decade-long pre-fame travels, has been getting a heap of publicity recently for the breakaway hit “Lullaby,” which sounds like John Prine, Beck, and Bono enjoying cocktails in a phone booth. Elsewhere on the album, the spoken-word folk of Prine also mingles with the faux-pained howls of Lenny Kravitz, the unabashed wailing of Joe Cocker, and a healthy shot of Dust Bowl Springsteen (Mullins even manages a pretty good Kris Kristofferson on the Highwayman’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”). On the second half of Soul’s Core, when most of the voices in his head have quieted down, Mullins sounds most like a guitar-minded Bruce Hornsbywell, a Virginia-bred Hornsby before he thought mixing the Grateful Dead and abstract jazz was a neat-o idea. There isn’t another radio-juicy cut like “Lullaby” here, but Mullins still has lots of interesting tales to tell. And it’s when he’s tapping into his own personal logbookand exploring the intricacies of his own unique talentsthat you get the feeling Mullins may be around significantly longer than it takes for a quirky hit single to plummet from the charts.Sean Daly