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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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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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