Mark Mulcahy – The Possum In The Driveway

Mark Mulcahy – The Possum In The Driveway

Although it’s taken a while for Mark Mulcahy to bring us this sequel to 2013’s hiatus-ending solo long-player, Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You, he’s not been idle in the interim.  A reunited Miracle Legion has diverted his energies into prolific gig-playing, overseeing a fresh vinyl edition of 1996’s Portrait Of Damaged Family LP for last year’s Record Store Day, coordinating digital-only back catalogue reissues and compiling the newly-available Annulment live album.  Whilst on-stage-orientated Miracle Legion commitments seem ongoing, Mulcahy has still found time to wrap-up and deliver another bundle of self-billed cuts, with the remarkably focused and eclectic The Possum In The Driveway.

Whereas the genially folk-rocking Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You resulted from a self-prescribed rapid ‘song a day’ recording approach – primarily it seems to get Mulcahy back into the rhythm of releasing records after a family-centric career break – this new album’s longer piecemeal gestation, which both predates and postscripts its predecessor by being assembled over a seven-year period, gives room for a broader sonic palette and a greater range of moods.

Featuring the ambidextrous likes of The Butterflies Of Love’s Scott Amore, long-time studio accomplices Ken Maiuri and Pasquale d’Albis, as well as further guests, deployed to either flesh-out or create extra space in Mulcahy’s arrangements and around his gymnastic self-layered vocals, guitars are dialled-down in favour of electric pianos, organs, synths, flutes, trumpets and other even less obvious instrumentation.  So although it’s less of a straightforward guitar-bass-drums band set-up compared to the more conventional Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You, it’s still very much a collection that revels in ensemble constructions.  Lyrically focused on domestic ties and yearning middle-age romanticism, The Possum In The Driveway uses its sonic range to deliver some of Mulcahy’s warmest and most uplifting songs since 2001’s career-high Smilesunset.

Across proceedings Mulcahy and co. skilfully segue between quieter more pared-back pieces, exuberant style-switchers and grander reveries without becoming unglued in dilettantism.  Hence, there are balmy intimate moments in the form of the sparsely elegant “Stuck On Something Else”, the spookily rousing “30 Days Away” and the spectral “They Broke The Spell”, which capture Mulcahy at his more charmingly unguarded and vulnerable.  In-between times there is a bevy of genre-hopping swingers; like the lyrically daft yet jubilant barber-shop-meets-psych-pop of “Catching Mice”; the mutated-mariachi shapes of “I Am The Number 13”; the theatrical-terpsichorean moves of “Hollywood Never Forgives”; the woozy carnivalesque “Cross The Street”; and the joyous yet atypically jangling “Jimmy”.  At the far-end of the album’s reach, to round things out, resides the swooning gospel-blues of “The Fiddler” and the epic six-minute Stax-soul-goes-jazz of “Geraldine”.

The Possum In The Driveway undoubtedly garners greater respect and affection with each fresh spin and proves that despite all of his business and personal life ups and downs, Mark Mulcahy remains a charismatic, intrepid and good-natured journeyman to continue watching – whatever pace or company he chooses to keep.