Saturday, May 21, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: HARRY MANX & KEVIN BREIT - STRICTLY WHATEVER
Manx, that minx, such a subtle bluesman, a student of world sounds, an expert player and emotive singer. Breit, always right, the stringed thing's best buddy, one of the great guitar monsters. I think I've said it before, but let me repeat my somewhat trite statement that he's Canada's Ry Cooder. Three times now these pals have teamed up for albums, with wonderful results. Anyone with a passion for blues, guitar music, or roots-alt-whatever needs these guys in their ears.
Both sing, play, write, a true partnership. All sounds here come from them, with even percussion supplied made from Manx kicking along while adding guitar. If you're familiar with his work, there's less of the Eastern influences this time, with baritone guitar being his main axe. Breit has supplied more of the songs, so it's more of player's disc, with all the different sounds Breit can coax out of his guitars, steel, sitar, mandolin and uke. Manx does trot out the multi-stringed mohan veena for one number, adds some banjo, and matches Breit on the slide and steel work. This is all great ear candy, hearing the instruments played so well, sounding so great, with so much diversity.
In the end though, all that playing would be for nothing if they couldn't write and sing, and the warmth of their voices is one of the highlights. Each takes turns on lead, and there are three delightful duets, both of these guys owning matching mellow voices. Have there ever been better partners? Breit is the real surprise here in the writing department. I don't normally think of him as a scribe, mostly because he's such a go-to guy on guitar, but he obviously needs that outlet too. Dance With Delilah is my favourite, a song that warms you like a blanket. Manx shines best on a classic cover, the Bobby Hebb classic Sunny, which tells you a lot about this disc. That's the vibe, classic.