Monday , May 27 2024

CD Review: Melissa Mulligan, Love This Life

This is an upbeat pop-rock CD from Connecticut singer-songwriter Melissa Mulligan. The best songs, especially “Dark Horse” and “Janie,” could be radio hits, and Mulligan’s maple-syrup voice reminds one of the sometimes underrated Paula Cole’s.

“Borrowed Wings” is another catchy number, with airier, Sarah McLachlan-ish vocals. “Girl,” a dramatic rocker on the Pretenders tip, segues nicely into the eerie “You Are The Light” which features guitars and harmonies that echo Jefferson Airplane.

The lovely title track is the heart of the album. Though not the catchiest song, it embodies the way Mulligan’s protagonists rise out of melancholy into energetic hope:

Dust on the dresser, ’cause beauty is tired,
Settles and covers up what lies beneath
It’s dangerous, how the fear builds up…
I’m sad as a river that’s washing up empty
Nothing inside me just this need to run
Give me time… To love this life.

The production isn’t amazing, but not bad for an indie project. The musicians are skilled and energetic, with tastefully minimalist guitar leads from Bill Blue, especially in “You Are The Light” and “Love This Life.”

The lyrics can be awkward and disjointed, as if Mulligan is trying to cram too many twists of thought into too few lines. Confusing syntax and mixed metaphors result, although now and then those end up as evocative poetry: “Headache negotiates blood from the brain/Is it dry, is it drowning, does it pound concrete?” I’m not sure what that means, but there’s something great about it. In any case, the best of the melodies are so catchy it doesn’t matter. Melissa Mulligan has the touch. In her best songs and best vocal performances, she makes pop-rock magic.

Available at CD Baby

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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