OUT OF THE SHADOWS: CHRIS MULLIN
We like a sideman stepping into the spotlight at Liverpool.com. Those hidden harmony singers and bass players often hide their light under a bushel and hold back songs of strength and heartbreak. It must be hard to get a word in being in a band with Digsy, never mind a song… but Chris Mullin has managed to get an EP recorded and released. It’s a cracker. And he did it with a little help from a friend. By Denis Parkinson.
You can’t listen to every song or see every band. There is so much music available from so many places, that the search can be a simultaneous source of joy and frustration – for every musician you discover, there is a nagging feeling of missing out on someone else. Until now, I’ve missed out on Chris Mullin. But you shouldn’t.
Scouser Mullin is co-songwriter and bass player for Liverpool band The Sums and is currently tasting success holding down the bottom end for a rejuvenated Hurricane #1 (as a recent tour of Japan attests to). Now he’s raided his personal archives and released a solo EP, ‘Myself Fooling Me’, containing six songs all written, produced and performed by the man himself. Well, apart from the one co-written with Paul McCartney…
“The title track was written twenty years ago after I was lucky enough to have a one-on-one jamming session with McCartney,” says Chris. “We played the song together a few times and Macca contributed the middle eight – and also suggested the title. He loved it and said “… John would have loved that, the lyrics are great!”. What a compliment!”
Indeed. The EP sounds noticeably different to The Sums and it’s not what you’d expect. The songs he writes with Digsy in The Sums, and the music of Hurricane #1, are guitar-based with an indie sensibility. These songs are delicate, melodic, emotional and there is a quiet intensity at play which is confident and comfortable with itself. The music feels raw and vulnerable – and things have gotten more personal. Opener ‘Hard Times’, for example, is a piano and strings gem, reminiscent of Dennis Wilson (who famously stepped outside The Beach Boys to great effect) and is just a lovely song. The EP fits together well despite Mullin collating the collection from different points in time. As he says, the title track is twenty years old, but what an impressive collaborator to have on your first solo release! There isa hint of The Beatles in the tune – but when an actual Beatle was involved, that’s no bad thing…
Solo releases by members of established bands can often get drowned out by what has come before, but this is one worth seeking out and a change of direction that sounds like a very enjoyable experience for the artist. It can be hard to see the wood for the trees in the modern musical landscape, but don’t miss out on this mellow and modest nugget of a release.
You can’t hear everything, but luckily some music makes the search worthwhile.
‘Myself Fooling Me’ is out now
Pic by John Johnson