When you listen to a Paul Manchin album, you are guaranteed variety of sound, increasing, Michael Franks-style vocal creativity and his own, slightly quirky arrangements which transcends genres – even if not intentionally. He seems a slightly sad and solitary soul who expresses his sullen longings via these vacillating tracks.
“Swim”, complete with sound effects, is the first song and if you’ve seen the “Lift” video, you know that he is stroking in his pajamas, dreamlike. It needs not be weird – yet is surely and slightly thus. Pull your swimsuit drawstrings tight for the ride!
The next pool dip is “Lift” (you make my day) and then the jazzy “What Makes People Happy”, followed by a remake of a song from his previous, “Salutations” album, “Take A Ride”; another cut is the same, but with a funky beat. Are we in Remix City, Paul?
On track five, he explores Madonna’s 1980s smash, “Like A Virgin”, a totally different way. I teased him that Madonna is going to come after him and, to my surprise, he replied that he secured permission from her! Apparently this isn’t the first time Paul has covered it either. He did so back during his Fly-Life days on the 2011 album, “Prolific”. Hmm.. This time it blends into “Blackjack”, another cut from his last collection. “Power of Love” is a beautiful piano solo ballad. “Fly”, my favorite and representative of how I first met Paul Manchin, is a nice dance club number with breakbeat-into-the-mix possibilities for DJs.
I really love his respectful, guitar-only cover of Elton’s “Your Song” (track nine).
Tracks ten and eleven, “Chance” and “Decline” respectively, are both big beat instrumentals and “Trinity” is basically sfx and a pure question mark for this listener. Number fourteen, is really jazzy, while “Promise” takes us back to Paul’s penchant for adding a few curious instrumentals late in the game. Any chance he will revisit those tracks on his next album – this time with lyrics added? “Want” sounds like a piano soundtrack from a horror movie!
Track sixteen, “Wonder” is my second-place favorite here. It also apparently has two remix versions, inside an overall retro theme, taking us back to the 1960s “British Invasion” sound of the likes of The Dave Clark Five on one; the next remix is ten years hence from the former. What is very troubling is that in the video for this song, he burns and acoustic guitar! What did this have to do with the lyrics? Why not put out the album version and then the remix version as a single and video?!
Just snorkel-spy “Try”, and listen to an introspective guitar monologue. “One” is also from the previous ‘Salutations’ album; this time with a different beat. How bout more original new fare and fewer remixes, Paul? Some of the blends and revisits seem random and are confusing to those listeners who desire a more consistent thematic approach to their listening.
That being said, this bath is the most listenable Manchin album throughout that I have enjoyed by him. Four out of five stars for listenability ( the burning guitar almost makes me deduct a point). I want to see how he sounds when the majority of songs are new originals – even if fewer overall – in the deep end. Please do not drown us in remixes next time!
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