home listen reviews a-z
Mary Mulliken

I 8 THE SANDBOX  •  Mary Mulliken

I first heard the artist's name in our recent interview with Laura Cantrell. We were talking about Rob Burger's work on Laura's recent record, an artist we admire from his work with the Tin Hat Trio. Laura mentioned that Rob was playing around NYC with a singer songwriter named Mary Mulliken, so I made a note. Typically, one of our designers followed up instead, and sent me a link to her site. We recognized her visually as one of our people (not foolproof, but it's pretty good) and asked her to send us her CD. Maybe that's a long-winded preamble, but that's how we found Mary Mulliken.

Mighty good thing, too. We love stumbling on to somebody original, someone with a vision and a sound--and musical friends with whom to make a record. In this case, that's the rather inordinately talented Rob Burger on many things that either have a keyboard or otherwise make a percussive sound. The other pair, also known as The Old Joe Clarks, are Mike and Jill Coykendall, currently from Portland.

i 8 the Sandbox opens with the Latin blues "You Ain't Worth a Dime." The singer takes the poser protagonist down to size, saying "Your brother warned me about you, your mother told me not to" and "Your sister does your laundry, well mister, you are 33" and concludes "You might have a million dollars, but baby, you ain't worth a dime." When something is beautiful, but also very quirky, it becomes more of both of those things.

The CD sounds like four extremely talented very close friends in a good home studio, and there's nothing I'd rather hear. It's relaxed, intuitive, funny, inspired. Another poser, "Marina from the Marina," gets roasted for her $6 latte and 17 tight cardigans in shades of baby blue and talking at the top of her voice on cell phone, proving she knows nothing. Now, I might not think that's so funny if the music to the song wasn't well written or beautifully played, but that's all going on in spades. And Mary Mulliken's funny, just look at her.

In her SF days, she was a songwriting student of Bonnie Hayes, certainly one of our favorite songwriters through the years. Since relocating to NYC, my friends tell me she's become a favorite in the downtown musical scene. I'm headed that way soon, and hope to catch the quirky queen at work. This is a perfect example of what we mean by pop music for grownups, a left of center joy. Check it out, pick it up. • Frank Goodman

return to covers      listen to clips       buy it

marymulliken.org       puremusic home