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Manning - A Matter Of Life & Death (The Journal Of Abel Mann) CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.04 | 70 ratings

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4 stars Guy Manning is an artist who caught my attention by being one of the founding (and current) members of The Tangent. Since I love that band, I started looking into Guy's output and dipped my toe into the water with this disk, A Matter of Life and Death. Guy is listed here under Eclectic but was originally under the Prog Folk label before he himself started a thread here on PA asking to be switched. I bring this up because even against his protestations, there is certainly a folk element in here. But I have no quibble with the Eclectic label now assigned as Manning certainly beings a good amount of diversity to the table by creating many different types of melodies with many different instruments.

Good friend and long time collaborator Andy Tillison is one of many guests Manning employs here. But I certainly can't say that if you are a big Tangent fan you will immediately go for this. It is quite different. The mandolin, cello and fiddle make appearances as well as liberal saxophone. The piano is featured in several songs and the other keys just really fill in beautifully in many instances and give the music that lush feel many of us look for. The acoustic guitar is Manning's forte and you get plenty of that, with the electric being used nicely but it is infrequently the center piece of a song. There are however a few very nice solos thrown in. Each song is really different from the next while keeping a constant vibe throughout. There are a couple slow, almost atmospheric songs and a couple upbeat ones, a few maybe brushing up against a rockabilly vibe. The mid tempo "Out of my Life" is a highlight as there is a long instrumental passage where the sax of Laura Fowles really shines. The closer "Midnight Sail" has a jam band feel to it and ends the disk on a definite upbeat tone. He is certainly adept at bringing many different sounds to the party to keep the album fresh.

I can see Jethro Tull fans being drawn to this album. Not only for the music but also Manning's voice, which has a passing resemblance to Ian Anderson's. Rich and deep, his voice is certainly distinctive and does have a bit of "love it or hate it" but I think it fits well with the music. You can certainly understand almost all of the lyrics being sung.

In my quest to review albums with few ratings, I chose this one as it had 7 written reviews, but 3 of those appear to be copied from outside sources and they all give 5 stars. So I would recommend to anyone interested to do their own research into Manning's catalogue. As of now, this is the only album by him that I own and am not sure I will be buying more. I would like to hear more but "so many albums, so little money," you know the drill. The man is talented and prolific and surrounds himself with people that make the final product better. My rating is 3.75 rounded up to four.

johnobvious | 4/5 |


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