Nothing fires up the muse as readily as heartbreak. Shawn Mullins recently relearned that lesson, via a divorce from his third wife that left him both crushed and inspired. Sitting on his porch in Atlanta one afternoon, the newly single Mullins found himself searching for some sort of scapegoat. “Dealing with the split would be so much easier,” he thought, “if I could just blame the whole thing on my stupid heart.” With that, the title track for his new album was born, kickstarting the creation of a new studio album that will arrive next month on Rounder Sugar Hill Records.
It’s been five years since Mullins released Light You Up. My Stupid Heart picks up where that record left off, whipping up its own variation of Americana with Mullins’ baritone at the helm. The tracklist cuts a wide swath, veering from Levon Helm-inspired roots-rock to New Orleans-worthy Dixieland. On “My Stupid Heart,” Mullins even splits the difference between two of the 20th century’s biggest pop architects — the Beatles and the Beach Boys — with help from a soaring string section and some thickly-stacked harmonies. (Listen to the song below.)
“This album is my most personal in years,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “It’s about love: the romantic kind, the family kind and the love I have for my country. The constant theme throughout is to follow your heart.”
One of the first records to be released via Sugar Hill’s new merger with Rounder Records, My Stupid Heart will hit stores October 23rd, during the tail end of a cross-country tour that takes Mullins from a hometown show in Atlanta to a string of cities across the Pacific Northwest. It’s also his fifth album to follow 1998’s Soul’s Core, whose biggest hit — the half-spoken, half-sung chart-topper “Lullaby” — briefly made Mullins a Top 40 titan, with shows at Madison Square Garden and gigs alongside other late-Nineties kingpins like the Backstreet Boys and Destiny’s Child. In the aftermath of that short time in the spotlight, he’s held on to a devoted cult audience by taking his own advice and following his heart. . .even if it’s broken.