MUSIC REVIEW- Tortured souls: Putting it out there takes nerve

Wrinkle Neck Mules performed at Gravity Lounge Friday night, March 10, but I'll get to that in a minute...

What if, for as long as you could remember, you've always wanted to be an architect? But for some reason– misfortune or turn of fate– you've been unable to pursue architecture as a career. So instead you just get a job to pay the bills.

Still, the spirit of architecture is in you. You know it's your calling because you love it so dearly. In the evenings after work, you go home and head straight for the place you find the most peace: your drafting table. You sit and design structure after structure, knowing deep down inside that nothing you envision will ever be built or put to use. Even worse than that, you hesitate to show your masterful plans to anyone for fear no one will appreciate what you have created. The plans are never as impressive as the real thing.

Is a song as beautiful if you can read the notes but can't actually hear it?

Day after day you go through the motions at your job so that at night you can do your heart's desire­ never to be fulfilled because no one will truly experience the wonders of your mind. It's funny, but not in the ha-ha kind of way.

We don't ever hear much about the tortured architect, do we? More than likely that's the last calling that comes to mind when we think of a tortured artist. Most people think of painters, actors, or musicians, but actually, that lot has it pretty good. An actor doesn't need a physical stage to perform; a painter can find materials just about anywhere to create a visual piece. And a musician... well, a song can be shared, experienced, and passed on in an infinite combination of ways.

In the end, it doesn't matter what type of artist you are; your responsibility to yourself is to create. Design a building even if you know it may never be built in your lifetime, write a book that may never be published, or sing a song you wrote just for the hell of it. You never know: someone, somewhere might take a liking to your art and make it available to the world. Then again, maybe they won't.

So what in God's name does this have to do with the band Wrinkle Neck Mules? A whole lot. Friday night was WNM's CD release party/show. It was an unimpressive turnout for a band that deserves much better. But regardless of the limited visible support at Gravity Lounge, the band performed their songs whole-heartedly.

Wrinkle Neck Mules is a country rock outfit. Dip that into a vat of Americana and splash it with a little (but not much) bluegrass, and you have the base for the band's sound. The band is refined, and the songwriting is well orchestrated.

The lead singer has a very dominating voice. His gravely undertones are distinctive beyond measure. This is a vocalist you can distinguish from the first one or two notes. His southern drawl is thick– so thick that I had a hard time understanding his lyrics at times. Actually, I had a hard time understanding most of his lyrics. But to his credit, he can write a hell of a melody, which inevitably wove its way into a well-times chorus. Those I could understand.

What I like most about The Mules is that they play their music in earnest. They seem to really find peace in their own songs. The turnout didn't matter. They played 'cause they love to. I don't think I've ever seen anyone rock out on a mandolin like The Mules' lead guitarist did.

Because the music was real, genuine music, someone left that room with something: a melody, a lyric, a beat, or a bass line. As a musician, that's all you can hope for. At the end of the day, they can thank goodness that at least they aren't a tortured architect and they have a definitive outlet for the art they create.