Thing of the Day 

Miraculous Mule

March 31st 2011

Miraculous MuleMIRACULOUS MULE – Miraculous Mule (Stag-O-Lee) - Every time Michael J Sheehy puts out a new record I rather quickly decide it to be his best so far.The man is forever putting out his best record so far, be it solo or with one of his bands - Dream City Film Club, Saint Silas Intercession, The Hired Mourners - or this, his latest band Miraculous Mule. That’s one hell of a powerful back catalogue of work there now, quite a substantial one too. 

  Impossible to actually say if this six track album truly does constitute his finest collection of recordings yet, we’re going to have to wait for the hangover to clear and the cold light of day to ease our eyes open again before we can make a sensible judgement; what we do know is once again, Michael and his (drinking) friends have not let us down and this latest album is once again up there with the best of his work. The fact that these aren’t his songs means this probably can’t be considered his best, but it is another impressive soul-filled set of recordings and interpretations and quite why he remains such a well kept secret is a little bit of a mystery... Well, no, there may just be some clues in the constant changing of bands along with all the cuts and bruises and the fact that the safe option and the easy route are not for Mr Sheehy -  if there’s a gutter to fall in, he’ll find a way of doing it. 
   This new album is not the latest step on a carefully managed career plan or marketing curve, this is not something that has been plotted out in the offices of some record label or other. This is music made by necessity, this is music from the soul, if he couldn’t be doing this then you do seriously wonder if he’d bother with anything - this is a man born to sing, born to write songs, this is an ongoing real labour of something or other and Michael J Sheehy really is the most real of flawed deals.  When he tells you the dice have got him in the hole again or baking that cake with his neighbour’s wife has got him in a whole heap of trouble once more, you kind of believe there to be some truth in his latest tale…Michael J  

   Michael describes Miraculous Mule as “…a group of Anglo-Irish honkys who dig African American gospel, prison/work songs and hillbilly music”. There are six songs here on this self-titled album, and an extremely full-bodied rich sounding gospel flavoured low-slung spiritual blues band of the finest order; six gloriously voiced songs and once more another large dose of lapsed catholic guilt.  The band are a four piece with three lead singers: Sheehy, Alex Louise Petty (who previously sung with Gemma Ray), and Patrick McCarthy (Michael’s brother and long time collaborator), and Ian Burns, last seen in Saint Silas Intercession plays drums.  Michael explains “we may be lapsed Catholics, agnostics and non-believers who have stumbled into hell’s ditch, but we sincerely believe in the redemptive power of this music and how it makes us and our audiences feel. Our only mission is to move you”.

   This self-titled debut mini-album is a rich mix of reinterpretations, traditional gospel songs, and a gloriously vicious version of Chuck Berry’s Downbound Train. Some of this gets close to Elvis/Johnny Cash gospel song territory (high praise I know, it isn’t said lightly). This is old school redemption, this is drunk every night and church on Sunday, this is angelic voiced songs gone off the rails, songs running on instinct, something that just feels right; they’re not straight covers or faithful copies, they’ve just run their own way. The bands have imposed their own authentic style and they’ve done it rather well, this all sounds very very real, very right, very righteous..   And the ban say that the journey through these songs has already lead them to a second album of original compositions that will be out later this year. Now that one might just be the best album Michael J Sheehy has been involved in so far…

Miraculous Mule’s self titled six track album is out on April 1st   

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