Spontaneous, vibrant, and lyrically stimulating, Shawn Mullins scores big with his passionate messages and his flair for natural storytelling that touches the core of the listener's soul. Mullins brings together ten years of hard work and a respected musician's ethic for the release of the aptly entitled Soul's Core, his first record on a major label. The Columbia release is ethereal, rich in narrative, and, though overly produced at times, filled with expressive instrumental work. Mullins lets his scratchy and deeply resonating voice blend in smoothly with his six-string guitar and fellow bandmates. The opening track, "Anchored in You," takes off with an uplifting message of newfound love and fresh hope, raising the listener to clear skies. Singing "I'm stoned in San Francisco with you on my mind" may have been the net to catch this song away from radio airplay, though the melody feels free in a euphoric sense. The radio airplay hit "Lullaby" mentions a girl who is feeling depressed, crying out for a life away from her upbringing, a life full of Hollywood days and movie star-filled nights. Other tunes carry stories filled with strength lying in the lyrics' character development, such as "Gulf of Mexico." Singing about liquor stores, deserted boardwalks, holy waterfalls, and lost highways, Mullins makes no excuses not to touch on very human circumstances. "I heard a voice from my soul's core, saying freedom's just a metaphor" is certainly a lyric deemed powerful and meaningful in scope. "September in Seattle" is a driving tune branded with a gospel finish, polished with joyous melodic vocal statements. The story of a man of 37 who's been riding trains for 15 years -- lost in his journey to find the ocean and smell the salt of the sea -- encompasses the tune "Twin Rocks, Oregon." On a perilous journey to be found and to find one's self, the man -- though offered a ride to the San Francisco Bay -- decides to stay and catch the next train and "dream his life away." Other bright spots on this record deserve an attentive listen, including the dreamy, haunting "On a Rainy Night," the soulful "Soul Child," and the heartwarming "You Mean Everything to Me." "Shimmer," a song of optimism and encouragement, will always bring delight and joy to the suffering listener, encouraging everyone human to realize we were born to shimmer and shine, born to radiate. A touching song in a more personal way is the letter dedicated to friend Patrick Cosgrove. Fans of Mullins will be sure to capture the moment and seize this time, while wrapping their arms and ears around the record for a listen.
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AllMusic Review by Shawn M. Haney