Release Date: Apr 28, 2017
Record label: Mezzotint
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Who's your favourite singer? The chances are it's somebody who makes it sound effortless, the kind of delivery that suggests they'd be singing whether there was a mic in front of them or not. Mark Mulcahy is one of those. The sometime Miracle Legion mainman has always been an idiosyncratic songwriter but here, more than ever, it feels as if he is writing for that voice - taking delight in adopting personas, indulging his rare gifts of resonance and elasticity, allowing his intuitive good taste in phrasing to casually startle.
Mark Mulcahy returns from his past lives on his latest solo album. After spending a few years immersed in a sort of career retrospective with his old bands Polaris and Miracle Legion, the western Massachusetts singer comes sauntering back with The Possum in the Driveway, his first album of new material since 2013. Mulcahy got his start fronting Miracle Legion in New Haven in the early '80s, and that band evolved into Polaris, which probably remains his best-known project.
Mark Mulcahy doesn't mask his excitement very well. He's pensive and cautious in conversation but erupts like steam escaping a kettle when an idea stirs him. That's the type of enthusiasm the cult singer-songwriter speaks with when discussing his fifth solo album, The Possum in the Driveway. "The record took years off my life to make," he tells me.
Nothing can stop Mark Mulcahy. It's been an odyssey for the offbeat songwriter to complete The Possum in the Driveway, a four year-long project that was repeatedly derailed due to many unforeseen events. But each fresh start brought a clearer viewpoint for Mulcahy, seeing as his latest solo endeavor sorts out many stylistic forms with a precociousness that matches his onstage persona.
That's a neat trick; so often, attempts to express such basic, cosy notions as Mulcahy has repeatedly discussed in his work result in music of such gloopy sentimentality that the simple beauties that their creators wish to describe are totally undermined, any vestiges of profundity diluted beyond all recognition. The 2009 Mulcahy tribute album, Ciao My Shining Star, is a wonderful testament to the artist; amongst others, Thom Yorke , Michael Stipe and The National reimagine his songs to lovely effect (the latter's version of "Ashamed of a Story I Told" is particularly excellent), and for all their superficial changes, that essential humanity of the original work is never lost. It's a real shame, then, that on The Possum in the Driveway, Mulcahy has taken an uncharacteristic misstep, ending up in the same mawkish territory that he has previously avoided with such panache.
First, some context: Mark Mulcahy is formerly of recently reformed REM-contemporaries Miracle Legion and also Polaris, and responsible for four solo albums of unadulterated loveliness. You need this context to understand how much it hurts us to say: his latest album, The Possum in the Driveway, doesn't quite deliver on all fronts. Much of The Possum...
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.