Recorded with Band of Horses in their Nashville studio, ‘Love’s Bonfire’ is a gritty blend of alt-country and British Indie chronicling the “”emotional seasons”” of a relationship says Mullan.
Mullan has a darker take on Country music than most Nashville inspired UK acts, with a storytelling style that’s more Willie Nelson than Dolly Parton. ‘Love’s Bonfire’ explores “the shadow side of love” says Mullan and is a decidedly bolder step than 2012’s Plain Jane, the debut that Mullan serviced to the press herself receiving a significant level of critical acclaim. She turned down a major label deal with Warners and instead set up her own label, Raindog Records, with funds from a deal with Elton John’s Rocket Pictures who optioned the rights to a blog she was writing about her misadventures in the music business.
Mullan went to Nashville armed with songs and hoped recording with “a hairy rock band” band would help her “paint with bolder colours and avoid the usual singer-songwriter sound”. She found her obsession with Country music being met with the American Rockers love of The Smiths which resulted in a sound she describes as “a Trans-Atlantic mash-up””. Mullan’s spooky layered vocals mixed with atmospheric distortion, pedal steel and picked guitar makes for a unique sound. There are hints of folk rock on the scathing ‘Jonathan’ about a man who “holds his crotch like a crucifix” and ‘I’m still here’ details the subtle agony of keeping romance alive in the twilight years of a relationship.
The first single ‘I Hope It Breaks Your Heart’ immediately trended on soundcloud with over 80k plays and this track, alongside ‘Bad For Me’ has the biggest balls on the record exploring themes of romantic masochism, addiction, and revenge. While ‘Dear Elvis’ skips along on the surface it is, at it’s heart, one of the darkest songs on the record. It’s sung from the perspective of a child in the 1950’s whose Dad is a bully so he writes to Elvis for help because “mother she stops crying, when you’re on the radio”.
It’s the closing track ‘You Must Have Loved Him Once’ where Mullan gets most personal, revealing that she wrote this song about her parents “after going through some pretty heavy therapy”. Love’s Bonfire is a raw and incisive offering from an undeniably powerful singer and songwriter. We hope it breaks your heart.