I dined upon and digested “Salutations” by Canada’s Paul Manchin during the spring 2017 holidays and I must admit that the feast was a smorgasbord of gourmet sounds upon a diverse continental musical menu, unlike any in recent memory. This is not to imply that I loved every utensil on this table setting, however. Then, his CD got stuck in my car radio player for many days, causing me to do even more research on how to free it again so that I could recite these titles to you! Relatable…very. For me, this is a whole De Ja Vu experience with Paul again. I first reviewed Paul’s “Truth” and “Expression” while writing for someone named “DJ Ron” who edited About.com/dancemusic circa 2006. His voice and approach still reminds me of jazz singer, Michael Franks.
Leading with “Take A Ride”, you will hear a concept that anybody can relate to via its narrative description. Who among us hasn’t felt the need to take a car ride to try and forget a failed romance, unrequited love or just to keep from arguing?
“One”, cut two, is the first modest danceable number on the album and my favorite overall. I play it on “repeat” mode. Its beat conjures up a combination of the late Aaliyah’s, “Rock The Boat” and the Hues Corporation smash of the 1970s, “Rock The Boat”, just a tad slower [song title coincidence not planned, dear reader]. He bills this as a song “dealing with grief”, yet I do not hear it as dark as that. It is the best pure song on the album and Paul should develop his next effort around this style of “cha-cha”. As many of this effort it ends cold, leaving you wanting more. I prefer the “vamp to fade”.
The rest of this CD seems to wax and wane between up and downtempo instrumentals with an occasional introspective classic, quiet piano piece interspersed. You can find yourself in deep thought while listening to these songs and I wonder if the inspiration for some of this music is personal Paul Manchin angst?
So, is Paul an accomplished pianist? No, according to him, he composes and has other musicians play the keys. I was hoping that it was he on some of those classic tickling the ivories moments like on “Are You Mine?” /featuring Gabriele Tosi.
I heard a mixed bag of intros and themes . For example, track three, “King”, has a familiar dance club intro only to flat-line into a mid-tempo love (?) song. Something strange going on here, methinks…
“I Think I Care” is really slow; “Let U Go” has a much bigger sound, ahead of three, mostly percussive jams – “Personal Space” with the most Afro-electronic beat – and then back to forlorn love on the 100% acoustic guitar, “I Want You To Know”.
Paul adds a couple more nice and promising short, instrumental interludes, including a very soulful instrumental theme on “Coming My Way”, before we bump to the disco beat of the very suggestive sucker, “Lollipop”! Oh, NOW I am awake! An it’s a good thing because the next selection continues the 4X4 club beat with “spinning/spyros poulos mix. I had to ask, what is a “poulos”? Maybe a Greek DJ remix thing?
Track fifteen, “Down”, is a definite dance club and Rhythm and Blues number – but what is he saying? “Life” is a good road trip theme song to drive to – if only it were longer. “Exitus” is very listenable and has the same beat of Freddie Jackson’s “We’ve Only Just Begun”. And Uh-oh, Wow! I fear the short classic horror movie organ on the title cut, “Salutations”! Which Edgar Allen Poe or Vincent Price character is going to jump-out next?!
To call this album “schizophrenic” might sound “mean” in today’s quasi politically-correct times, and yet it does have two personalities! Maybe it is more like “Cybill”, lol
“Salutations” is a study of contrasts among twenty tasty tracks. Even though I obviously listened a lot in my car to this, I give it 3.5 melancholy face masks out of a possible 5 due to the shortness of the instrumental tracks which seemed like padding. I would have also liked to have heard those tune play longer and move towards a statement. Finally, I cannot wait to hear this album on my full-out home music system, instead of in a car, this summer.
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