Brothers in arms rather than siblings, this Mobile, Alabama quartet have Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin producing this, their second album. A bass, drums, guitar and violin/mandolin is the lineup that is bolstered by some strong vocals. The lead vocal is from Ross Newell while the other members Ben Meininger, Gram Rea and Greg Deluca all add their vocals to create a solid, warm sound. Newell is also the main songwriter.
Their sound has been honed by numerous live shows and was polished by Berlin in the studio, who took that role having heard and admired the band’s debut release. Berlin brings experience and understanding to these Americana-styled songs, giving them additional range and nuance. Rather than home-record they used as professional studio, which accounts for the overall depth found in the album’s songs and sound.
Many of these tracks have a strong storyline that fits with the mood of melancholy on songs like Calamine, the tale of a gun of that name that seems to have a will of its own; one that ultimately leads to death. Louise is tale of love sought but not found with a girl of that name. Between those points of love and death the other songs tell their own short stories in a way that is often more uplifting than the subject matter might suggest.
This quartet is honing their sound and aiming to bring their music to a wider audience via touring and through their albums. They are not unique in terms of an overall roots sound and are equally not about breaking new barriers. What they do, they do well and with this album that have found a sound that they can develop and build upon. It is one forged in honest expression, something that is often lost in the search for wider commercial success. But for the Mulligan Brothers, they can go via Portland to wherever their music takes them and they will make many friends along the way.