Mulling it over 

Shawn Mullins
Photo: Michael Wilson

When a musician is widely known for one song and one song only, the relationship can be complicated.

Folk rocker Shawn Mullins’ Grammy-nominated track “Lullaby” was inescapable as soon as it debuted in 1998, and he hasn’t had another song approach that level of success ... but he loves the tune even after playing it nightly for 15 years.

“That song still pays my bills, and I have no problems with that,” he said. “I never really get tired of it. I don’t know why. I just always enjoy it.”

The ’90s brought its fair share of one-hit wonders, but thanks to reasonable expectations, Mullins has enjoyed a slow burn, whereas most of his peers long flamed out.

“Some of it is the ability to be OK with rising and falling. Some people, once they get to that level, it’s too difficult to watch it go away,” Mullins said.

“I love playing the small venues. I’m able to do that still, and I’m thankful for that. I keep looking forward. You try to make whatever you are doing now be the best thing you’ve ever done. The only thing that can keep you going is thinking you can do something better.”

And if you asked his fans, they’d say that he’s more than just “Lullaby.”

“Most of the people coming to my shows aren’t even there for that song,” Mullins said. “I expected that for a long time, but it’s evident now that the people who come out are there for more than that.”

Mullins released one more major label album before making the jump to Vanguard Records, which has released his last three albums, including his latest, 2010’s Light You Up.

“We recorded it mostly live in a cabin I have in Georgia, but it doesn’t sound like that. It doesn’t sound like Fleet Foxes, all lo-fi by a cabin fire,” Mullins said. “We took the time to really set it up like you would a studio, but it still has that feel.”

He has been writing a follow-up, which he hopes to complete within a year’s time.

“I’m letting it come when it comes. I’m not going to force it,” he said. “I found that the times I do that, I don’t like what I come up with.”

Mullins doesn’t expect the album to give rise to another “Lullaby” or sell a million copies, but he doesn’t mind giving it a try, either.

“I’m competing with what I used to be,” he said. “That’s kind of fun.”

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