Mary Lou Fulton

REVIEW: Mary Lou Fulton “We’ll Tell Stories”


Mary Lou Fulton — We’ll Tell Stories

Mary Lou Fulton’s debut album, We’ll Tell Stories, which will be released on Oct. 15 on Infinidad Records, is packed with rich storytelling ballads. Produced in Los Angeles by musician and songwriter Rob Seals, founder and director of The Songwriting School of Los Angeles, the songs on We’ll Tell Stories show influences of country, gospel, symphonic rock, and Fulton’s own Spanish heritage all sung in Fulton’s beautiful, melodic voice.

Fulton is joined by a host of top notch musicians including: Sean Hurley (John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Stevie Nicks, Selena Gomez) and Derek Jones on bass (Nickel Creek, Jerry Douglas Band); Carl Byron on piano, organ, and accordion (Jackson Browne, Michelle Shocked); and Ryan Brown (Dweezil Zappa, The Young Royals, Nick Lachey) and Mark Stepro (Jakob Dylan’s Wallflowers) on drums.

Like early activist singer-songwriters Woody Guthrie and Joan Baez—one of her influences—Fulton weaves calls for action into her songwriting in songs like the catchy “Come Along,” and the protest song, “Not Going Back,” about the pre-Civil Rights not-so-good old days, which won the national Songs for Social Change contest. “Not Going Back” uses suspense and an authentic wish for the country that opens into a catchy rhythm and results in a memorable song.   She turns the narrative to the perspective of many American black and brown people and their very human experiences.

But it’s not all political, as Fulton also sings about old flames, her rough-and-tumble grandfather, and the state of the world today.

Fulton’s voice really shines and her storytelling is at its finest in “The Ballad of Suaqui,” a beautiful Spanish corrido she co-wrote with her mother. She shifts easily between English and Spanish, singing about the destruction of her mother’s 400-year-old village to make way for a dam. It’s a bit reminiscent of the Slaid Cleaves song, “Below,” about a town in Maine that suffered the same fate. The song features musicians Andy Abad (Jennifer Lopez, Bonnie Raitt) on guitar, Joey Heredia (Herb Alpert, Sheila E) on percussion, and Juan Jose Almaguer (Linda Ronstadt) on violin and guitarron.

The title track features the gentle sweetness of Fulton’s vocals.  “Eggshell” is a hushed song that taps into the feelings of those days when you really feel like “what if I crack and break today?”.   

Fulton’s revised version of the Spiritual, “Silvy,” which was recorded by Lead Belly, is another highlight track. Sung in both English and Spanish with banjo and accordion, Fulton recreates the old field song for her ancestors and the field worker of today.

Mary Lou Fulton walks the narrow path of truth throughout every song on this album.  

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