The new album includes songs about love, contemporary relationships, parenthood, the Great Recession, and the hypnotized gloom that gripped New York in the days after September 11, 2001. They're tied together mostly by Mullins' baritone, with its generous helping of gravelly Southern soul.
Some of these songs could be classified as country, and Mullins has placed some songs on the Nashville hit parade. He had a hand in the clever recent beach anthem "Toes," a number-one hit for the Zac Brown Band. But generally he avoids the uses of sentiment and formal convention that often define music as country. Even a simple ballad like "I Knew a Girl" breaks its pattern with an image of "a broken soul and a complicated smile."