Since the release of his excellent 2013 record Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You, Mark Mulcahy has been on a roll, creating some of the best music of his career. With this year’s The Possum in the Driveway, he continues to stretch and evolve as an artist and performer. At a recent show at New York City’s Mercury Lounge, he turned out a hypnotizing performance of songs off records old and new. Joined by just his bandmate Ken Maiuri, the duo kept the room enraptured, with Maiuri on keys and percussion, and Mulcahy on guitar.
Mulcahy is the kind of artist who disappears into his on-stage performance, morphing with each song into something new. At one moment he’s practically whispering lyrics, and at another, he’ll let out a soulful cry that feels visceral and raw. He’s a weirdo in the best way, completely unselfconscious and wildly creative. Mulcahy fans lovingly sang along with the fabulously catchy choruses of songs like “Badly Madly”, “I Have Patience” and “She Makes the World Turn Backwards”. And Maiuri added subtle, but thoughtful harmonies and nuanced accompaniment. It was a performance full of extra attention to detail – from the quiet brushing of a drum to the faint sound of Maiuri dropping in a restrained vocal. The two are expert communicators, often just exchanging a look that leads to the slightest, but most beautiful sonic shift.
The Possum in the Driveway represents a return to form for Mulcahy, and it’s evident from his live shows this year that it was a true labor of love. Almost 10 years in the making, this record comes to us following stints with Polaris and Miracle Legion (both amazing, long overdue reunions), and seeing Mulcahy on stage singing in hushed tones with nothing but his guitar and one bandmate is almost jarring. But it’s also a beautiful and welcome change, and the songs on Possum are wonderfully strange and hypnotic. “Jimmy” and “30 Days Away” are standouts on the record and were so at this particular show, which reunited us with Mulcahy’s genius.