Pocket Shelley | Small Illuminations in a Darkening Sky

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Folk: Modern Folk Rock: Folk Rock Moods: Featuring Piano
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Small Illuminations in a Darkening Sky

by Pocket Shelley

Songwriter Michael Mullen -- also of The Size Queens -- weaves his own "strange webs of melancholy mirth" (as Percy Shelley would say) on the first Pocket Shelley record, including covers of songs by Bob Dylan and Tony Kushner.
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
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Tracks

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1. Pismo Beach (Photographs of Missing Persons)
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4:28 $0.99
2. Farewell, Angelina
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5:11 $0.99
3. Park Ranger
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4:42 $0.99
4. Mirror Lake
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4:28 $0.99
5. New Year's Eve
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5:54 $0.99
6. Planets Can Move
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4:22 $0.99
7. Ask Real Nice
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4:50 $0.99
8. Thank You, Tony Kushner
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4:54 $0.99
9. Half Moon Bay
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3:58 $0.99
10. Acid Orange
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8:36 $0.99
11. The Sky Is on Fire
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1:15 $0.99
12. Duets: 'Night Mamma
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1:13 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Pocket Shelley (as in a small volume of poems by the Percy Bysshe Shelley) is an ongoing project of songwriter Michael C. Mullen.

The record was produced by Tim Mooney of American Music Club, who also plays drums, bass, glockenspiel and occasionally guitar. Carlos Forster of For Stars sings back-up vocals on one track, Kirk Heydt plays cello on three tracks, and Marc Cappelle plays flugelhorn on two. Michael does the rest -- piano, organs, synthesizers and acoustic guitars.

As half of the songwriting team Adam Klein and Michael Mullen, Michael wrote the songs and played piano on three records by The Size Queens, two records by Glasstown, and two records by Roman Evening. "Small Illuminations in a Darkening Sky" is the first record of songs for which he wrote both the music and the words, and serves as lead vocalist.

In addition to the ten original songs is a cover of Bob Dylan's "Farewell, Angelina", using the lyrics (including an extra verse) from the version on the Bootleg Series, Volume 2. The last song on the record is "Duets: 'Night Mamma" from the Tony Kuhner/Jeanine Tesori musical "Caroline, or Change". The song was sung on stage by Anika Noni Rose. a soprano, but Michael approaches it with his deepest late night voice, and the sound of crickets is provided by sampled radio transmissions.

Some of Michael's influences that you might be able to hear on the record include John Cale (say, "Paris 1919"), Lou Reed (say, "Coney Island Baby"), Leonard Cohen (say, "Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye"), Loudon Wainwright III (say, "New Paint") and Stephin Merritt (say, "Falling in Love With the Wolfboy").


Reviews


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Kate Isenberg

A rare and powerful work
There are many CDs put out every year, but there are few like Pocket Shelley's SMALL ILLUMINATIONS IN A DARKENING SKY, in which Michael Mullen demonstrates the rare gifts of poetic lyrics, evocative yet understated vocals, and lush arrangements that set each song in its own emotional and aesthetic world. "Pismo Beach" presents loss as an experience that makes everyday details both sharp and strange, since the life they occupy could never be imagined before the loss. "Half Moon Bay" suggests that joy is elusive, taking its heat from the past and the future, making the present moment incredibly delicate, transient, and that much more radiant. The album subtly paints hope and despair as shadows that color the experience of the moment, which gets its very language from the distance (either real or imagined) from which we view the present. This is a substantive, perceptive, and beautiful collection of songs.