If a nippy autumn afternoon in the Adirondacks could create its own music, it would surely sound like the new self-titled album by Mulberry Soul.
Hailing from the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, Mulberry Soul plays a beautifully rural blend of bluegrass and folk that can both stomp with scorching energy and chill with relaxed but gracefully flowing rhythms.
The instrumentation on this record is so tight, it sounds like as if the band were part of a single, large instrument. This is especially evident on the smokin’ “Suzanna on The Hillside” and “Wilding Grove.” It’s also worth noting how excellent Mulberry Soul is at packing in as much emotion and sentiment into their playing. The fiddle alone can tug your heartstrings straight out of your chest one minute and then make you smile the next.
Out of the many strengths to be found on this album, the one that stands out to me the most is the group’s ability to weave elegant meditations on rather deep and sometimes existential subjects with a combination of expressive yet relatable lyrics and purely sympathetic instrumentation. For instance, on the record’s closing number, “What We’re Made of,” singer and banjoist Cordelia Hall, sings:
“On cloudy days my cloudy mind is feeling so confused
Got a list a mile long, don’t know what to do
Went to the garden, got down on my knees
Put my hands in the soil, said hello to the bees”
Hall’s soothing voice speaks of seeking the simplicity of getting back to the earth in order to reach a happier, more connected existence. The rich harmonies and warm-as-a-campfire-glow combination of the entire group’s set of instruments (which includes mandolin, cello and guitar, to name a few) supports the song’s self-realization and back-to-basics message and really drives it home.
By the end of this album, you’re going to have a problem with doing anything other than replaying it over and over.