If you listen to Brooklyn singer-songwriter Katie Mullins’ offbeat yet intimate and ultimately intoxicating new EP Three Songs without knowing its dramatic backstory, you might think you stumbled blissfully onto some intriguing and dreamy Joni Mitchell outtakes – if the legendary singer were teaching a master class in vocal texturing.
Yet the backstory makes this inviting EP even more compelling. It’s the result of her having literally no intention of writing or singing after the third hemorrhaging of her left vocal cord. The next part of the story requires a leap of faith, but whether you believe in the power of meditation or not (she engaged in 10 days of it), or miracle healings (she claims she received one!), you’ll experience something divine in the result. Mullins says these tunes – the long awaited follow-up to her 2013 second full length album Wedding – “flowed involuntarily during winter walks from one teaching gig to the next.”
hat’s the key description that captures the gentle way these songs, starting with “Crocuses,” slowly seep into your heart and ultimately take hold – they just flow, but only if you allow them, and you’re okay with no or minimal instrumentation. The title of the first track “Crocuses,” may have you reaching for your spring flower guide; it’s a member of the iris family and can be bright yellow, purple or white. She wrote it after overhearing women talking about the weather and one saying there is often snow on these plants in Massachusetts. In the second verse, the singer springs into a meditation on the elusiveness of light and how we’re always reaching for it. These poetic snippets are couched in gorgeously textured voices that create a powerful, angelic choir effect.
The whimsical “What’s The Sense” brings hand percussion (not playing an instrument, just spirited quick clapping) into the mix, with minimal vocal harmony textures that allow us to focus on the truly transcendent flights of fancy Mullins’ vocals take. The similarly thoughtful, deeply atmospheric closer “The Water” rolls for several minutes showcasing her upper register with a dreamy halo of vocal textures, then builds to a climax with touches of electronic percussion and gentle acoustic guitar. Mullins promises a full length album in 2019. If these three completely original, delightfully trippy and insightful songs win you over, it’s likely you’ll be waiting impatiently for Mullins to complete her remarkable comeback.