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THE MAMMALS —SUNSHINER (Humble Abode Music)

www.themammals.love

New England act, The Mammals are all accomplished musicians, and have good pedigree. One of which is a project featuring four members; The Mike + Ruthy Band. I well recall a superb performance two years ago at Gateshead’s (Sage) SummerTyne Festival, and like with their album Bright As You Can the band hit the spot.    

The Mammals perform folk of a wide nature, The Mammals after their sabbatical are back, and on their new album, Sunshiner they capture the energy of the band’s famed stage work.  Up till now I feel they have crept under the radar far too often (and in too many places), for good though they are I felt there wasn’t anything to set them apart from the wealth of bands like them. Those in their area alone it seems to be over loaded with excellent players, and lead vocalists. In Sunshiner they might have the recording to elevate their popularity. With Mike Merenda vocals, banjo, guitars, SK5, Ruth Ungar vocals, fiddle, guitar, ukelele, Konrad Meissner (drums, percussion), Jacob Silver (bass), Ken Maiuri (piano, guitar, 12-string guitar) plus Charlie Rose (banjo, pedal steel on two tracks), and contributions from Molly Mason, Jay Ungar, Brian Graham, Phil Rodriguez etc the record is a hot one. It is at times a most busy, energetic sound but the band don’t forget the artistic side, and how! The sheer beauty of “Stayin’ Up Late” warrants additional plays every time you play the record, Ungar escorted by piano sings like an angel (Carole King, Carly Simon eat your heart out. Her poise is sublime). The Mammals throw up a few surprises and a bunch more highlights during the course of the 14-tracks, and with the quick tempo of “Lilac Breeze” suggesting a Cajun feel, and in the likes of “Culture War” and rambunctious “Fork In The Road” (albeit I feel the vocal arrangement is on this occasion lacking) and the dramatic left-field pop folk “The Flood” it has a couple of excellent stable mates.  

Tender, a cappella ballad “My Baby Drinks Water” is welcome, and with it backed by the likes of simple breezy ode “When My Story Ends” you have a strong end to the record. 

Maurice Hope   

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September 2018

1
The Devil Makes Three
70 pts.
Chains Are Broken
New West
FC,JB,RK,TJ,LK
2
Jimmy LaFave
65 pts.
Peace Town
Music Road Records
PKO
3
Malcolm Holcombe
48 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
FB,JBO
4
Cody Canada & the Departed
47 pts.
3
Blue Rose Records
CVL,DHO
5
Jeffrey Foucault
43 pts.
Blood Brothers
Blueblade Records
MB,SZ
6
The War And Treaty
42 pts.
Healing Tide
Thirty Tigers
FCE,AL,MG
7
Martha Fields
40 pts.
Dancing Shadows
Independent
SP,DH,RST,RW
8
The Weight Band
35 pts.
World Gone Mad
Must Have Music
DD,CRS,BM
9
David Olney
32 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music
LM
 
The Black Sorrows
32 pts.
Citizen John
Blue Rose Records
 
11
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis
31 pts.
Wild Wild Wild
Bloodshot Records
GS
12
Hadley McCall Thackston
28 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
 
 
Nathan Bell
28 pts.
Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth
Angry Stick
PK
14
Curse Of Lono
26 pts.
As I Fell
Submarine Cat Records
MM,JF
15
Ryan Martin
25 pts.
Gimme Some Light
High Moon
 
 
Stephen Simmons
25 pts.
Gall
Locke Creek Records
TK,HDB
17
Jason McNiff
23 pts.
Joy And Independence
At The Helm Records
 
 
Jim Lauderdale
23 pts.
Time Flies
Yep Roc
 
 
Kevin Gordon
23 pts.
Tilt and Shine
Crowville Media
MP
20
Eliza Gilkyson
21 pts.
Secularia
Red House Records
KG,JJC
21
Boz Scaggs
20 pts.
Out Of the Blues
Concord Records
BH,JSM
 
Lucero
20 pts.
Among The Ghosts
Thirty Tigers
JJ
 
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
20 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
MW
24
The Jayhawks
17 pts.
Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Legacy
 
25
Lori McKenna
16 pts.
Tree
Cn Records

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