With reunions by Miracle Legion and Polaris during the past few years, as well as a tribute album featuring such big names as Radiohead and Michael Stipe, it seems the songwriting talents of Mark Mulcahy have finally gotten their due. Following on the heels of a Miracle Legion tour and 2013’s well-received Dear Mark J Mulcahy, I Love You, his fifth record, The Possum in the Driveway (Mezzotint Records) may be Mulcahy’s most anticipated album to date.
While with Miracle Legion Mulcahy has stuck to a palette of jangly college rock, as a solo artist, his muse has long taken on more fanciful flights. Such is certainly the case with Possum, which begins cautiously with “Stuck on Something Else,” a deceptively simple track comprised solely of sparse keyboard tickling and Mulcahy’s honeyed vocals, before slowly picking up steam. A few songs in, “I’m Number 13” is a flamenco-tinged torch song that’s at once evocative and clever, while “Catching Mice” takes a lighter approach, with singalong refrains flanked by traipsing flute melodies. Though nothing on the record is done by the book, some of the less whimsical tracks play to Mulcahy’s strengths. A mix of lilting folk melody and guitar hooks, “Conflicted Interests” could easily have been a Miracle Legion song in another life, while “Cross the Street,” a shuffling rock number, allows Mark to show the full dexterity of his singing voice. Like some of his other solo work, Possum takes a few listens to warm to its subtleties, but once its charms reveal themselves, you’ll be hooked.