Mick Mullin possesses a fine storytelling voice, used to full effect in this dark, murderous narrative. ‘Small Black Gun’ was written as an answer to ‘Long Black Veil’, a song made famous by the great Johnny Cash. But in this version we see the events unfold from the point of view of the real killer rather than the person wrongfully convicted. “I took a man’s life because I don’t have one,” Mullins sings in the voice of his despairing character, who is wracked with guilt but unable to confess to his crime. ‘Small Black Gun’ is carried along by a strong bassline and a foot-tapping rhythm, over which Mullin’s voice rises and falls with heartfelt emotion.
Mullin is the genuine article, living for the music and keeping traditional sounds alive. His output is inspired by all kinds of roots music: country, flavoured with gospel, folk and bluegrass. He writes timeless songs that feel real and sincere rather than chasing a sound that might shift more records but wouldn’t be true. As Mullins says: “I would rather be rejected for who I am than accepted for who I’m not. I’ve decided to carry the torch of original country and roots songwriting to tell the story of where I’ve been and who I am now because of it. I sing in dive bars and honky tonks on Saturday night and help lead worship in church on Sunday morning with the same flat top guitar.”
The single is taken from Mullin’s second album ‘Mullin’ it Over’, a varied collection of roots music. Although the tales told throughout the album are works of fiction, the characters and situations were born out of Mullin’s own personal experiences. It’s a reflection on his own character and flaws, such as his battles with alcoholism, his regrets and his mistakes. Perhaps, in these stories of loss and redemption, listeners will see something of themselves too. Check it out.