There’s something about the number three: a third album containing three songs, written after the third occurrence of the same injury, and perhaps there is something charmed in all of it.
Katie Mullins’ digital triptych, elegantly entitled, Three Songs, happens also to be the result of having no intention to write or sing again. Following the third time she hemorrhaged her left vocal chord, a 10-day initiation into the world of meditation, a seemingly miraculous healing, and a fallow period of musical output, this mini collection of songs “flowed involuntarily,” says Mullins, “during winter walks from one teaching gig to the next.”
The unexpected return to music making yielded songs which are anything but trivial. The first, “Crocuses,” co-produced and engineered by Shahzad Ismaily at Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn, portrays the stark beauty of an unlikely pairing — snow on the first flowers of spring — followed by a verse about light coming into the room. It was one of those songs that Mullins says, “spilled” out of her; “a healing mantra lifted from the mundane but profound images I saw around me that March.” The next two songs were co-produced with Roarke Menzies, and engineered by Sam Wadsworth at Japam Studios in Brooklyn where Mullins recorded her second full length, Wedding (2013) — an album met with critical acclaim that highlighted her inimitable sound: “a singer-songwriter — just not in the way you might think,” with a single which, “features her clear and ringing voice, both in the melody and in a glowing overdubbed chorus.” (John Schaefer of WNYC’s Soundcheck)
On Three Songs, slated for release on October 26th, 2018, Mullins takes these glowing overdubbed choruses to another level. One fan has described Mullins’ sound as “Joni Mitchell meets Meredith Monk meets Linda Perhacs.” Author Paul Rome, a friend and collaborator of Mullins, describes the experience of her music as, “clear, direct, intimate, generous: a warm, powerful voice over fluid patterns. One is part of a ritual that feels ancient or perhaps timeless. Storytelling. There is a moment in every song that is never precisely as one expects.”
Mullins’ powerful voice emerges from six years of performing opera in Germany, and a three-year stint at the Komische Oper in the city of Berlin, where she lived for the majority of her twenties. Last year, in search of a slower pace of life, and the possibility of daily walks in the mountains, Mullins began splitting her time between her Brooklyn home of 13 years, and upstate NY. The change comes through in her writing, which is rich with natural imagery but sparse in instrumentation.
The songs on this album reflect her longing to exist in places that offer silence and solitude, and room for contemplation and perspective. They are the prelude to a full-length release, in the works for 2019, which Mullins plans to “slow release” to fans through a soon-to-be-announced “Song of the Month” club. But for now, she offers us Three Songs, a brief but expansive reintroduction to her lush yet minimalistic songs, and an enticing preview of a dozen more on the way.