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4 stars One of the most impressive aspects of Guy Manning's career to date has been his highly prolific work rate and the quality he applies to his music. Over the past decade and a bit, Manning have released twelve studio albums, the last was the impressive follow up to the 2006 family saga, "Ansers Tree", entitled "Margaret's Children".

2012 looked like it was the year when Manning hit the road with the band and yet he has still found the time to record and release his new album, "Akoustic", a full set of stripped down, acoustically arranged numbers from his vast range of songs.

The inner sleeve notes reveal that in fact Guy and the band have been working on a new album but this is not yet ready. It seems that it was the right time to let the new material breathe for a little longer during a busy tour. A factor that may figure in the shape of the new material is the fact that Manning is undergoing a personnel change with guitarists Kevin Currie and Chris Catling leaving the group. Guy has announced the gap will be filled with a single guitarist and this will no doubt provide a new side to the music to come.

Akoustik is a great album for a lazy Sunday. It has a delightfully relaxed vibe and would suit a quiet moment with a chance to watch the rain come down from the warmth of your home. The timing of the release couldn't be better as there are some lovely autumnal shades to the work.

The tracks are beautifully realised as acoustic numbers and it almost seems that the original versions had their acoustic counterparts hidden within them and Guy and the band have stripped away the layers to expose them. There is no grand prog elements to the songs, and Guy has chosen the tracks that best suit a non electrik feel. Instead the folky soft tones are present with a flavour of Celtic seasoning running through it.

The only slight criticism I have would be the minimal packaging although this could be a little pedantic, however past releases from the band have spoiled us with superb accompanying booklets.

I can very much recommend this as an extra purchase for the fan of Manning, it has a lot to offer. For the new listener the starting point should be the albums mentioned above or one of many available

Report this review (#823191)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Now, I have never had the opportunity to see Guy in concert with his band, but six or so years ago I went to his studio to interview him and while we were chatting away he picked up an acoustic guitar and sang a few lines so even back then I knew that if he ever decided to record a back to basics album that it would be quite special. Some years down the line and he has done just that, although he has done so with the full group instead of a pure solo piece. He of course provides guitar and vocals, and he has been joined by Chris Catling (guitar), Kev Curri (guitar and backing vocals), Steve Dundon (flute), Rick Henry (drums), Kris Hudson-Lee (bass), Julie King (vocals), David Million (guitar) and Martin Thiselton (keyboards).

Guy doesn't hide the fact that he has been very influenced by Jethro Tull, just as well given that his singing voice is not too dissimilar to a certain Mr Anderson and one could imagine Ian going back over his back catalogue and producing acoustic versions of old numbers that previously had been treated very differently. This shows a very different side of Guy's music, and one that I enjoyed a great deal. I have been known to visit the odd folk club in my time (just for the beer you understand), and am partial to acoustic music (still one of my favourite gigs would have to be Roy Harper), so for me this album ticks lots of boxes. When music is slowed down and played like this there is no place to hide, it has to stand on its' own merits and this does that incredibly well. There is a warmth and depth to this music that makes it very special indeed. Even if you have never heard Guy before, but enjoy standout songwriting played with care and emotion then this is an essential purchase.

Report this review (#859785)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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