Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You

Death hangs everywhere in Mark J. Mulcahy's music. The Connecticut singer-songwriter lost his wife in 2008, and on "Where's the Difference Now," from his first album since that tragedy, he grieves over a suicide ("why would someone do such a thing without explaining?"). But Dear Mark J. Mulcahy fights against darkness with bright, wryly warbled folk-pop that can recall the Velvet Underground or Loudon Wainwright III or the post-REM college-rock Mulcahy made in Eighties band Miracle Legion. There's a ruffled-sleeve flute and a repurposed Obama slogan on "He's a Magnet" and happy whistling on the buoyant "Poison Candy Heart," where Mulcahy sings, "who's gonna clean this up? / Probably me like I always you do." He cleans up pretty.