CD REVIEW: Manuel Bruce Delbridge - "Manual is Back with Friends"
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"12 amazing songs"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Artist: Manuel Bruce Delbridge
Genre: Folk - Blues - Latin - Classic Americana
Sounds Like: Dr. John, Bob Dorough, Leon Redbone, Eric Clapton
Technical Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Cover heavy catalogue, dated mix, spreads itself to thin
Veteran singer, songwriter Manuel Bruce Delbridge releases his fifth CD, a new 13 track catalogue entitled “Manual is Back with Friends” in 2010. Biding his time between Alaska & Arizona, it's obvious Manuel iis a world traveler with many amazing stories to tel. He also has an extensive history of performing live in Peru and Bolivia.
The CD kicks things off with “Can’t Go to Work Anymore” a cool lullaby that serves up delightful harmonies, up-beat vocal melodies, accompanied by inviting harmonica & acoustic jazz guitar. Track 2 “Hot Chicken Soup” serves up another soothing acoustical ballad that has a classic barber shop quartet quality to it, with its Bobby McFarrin type harmonies, & humorous lyrical content. Track 3 ”’Feel so Good” delivers another old time ditty with rhythmic banjo, hot harmonica, & bluesy type feel. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice a lot of old time Americana instrumentation from Manuel & Co. but some songs possess an unmistakable Latin/Spanish flair. It’s obvious this man has had his share of worldly travels, & no doubt alot of amazing stories to tell. Some of the music is extremely simple & conservative in nature, while others deliver a full-on electric blues band. Either way you would be foolish to underestimate Manuel & his friends. The music itself has a lot of musical variety possessing a very carefree & uplifting spirit. The CD offers a rich melodic vocal foundation, with lush layers of instrumentation. I would classify this music as Americana, Folk, Jazz, Blues with a Latin/Spanish aftertaste. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery, you will also notice brief splashes of horns, saxophones, flute, harmonica, percussive accents, banjo, mandolin, Spanish guitar & even classical guitarr. This production is packed to the hilt with impressive chops & a wide variety of music. I didn’t fail to notice some very fancy fretwork along the way. All in all the CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing musical influences from classic Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Buffet, to Leon Redbone, & Rodrigo y Gabriela. Manuel’s voice works well across the board possessing a vocal swagger reminiscent of Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Bob Dorough (Schoolhouse Rock), Jimmy Buffet, & Dr. John. From upbeat Spanish “Nostalgia” “Caraparacito” “The Milkmaid” & “Recuerdos de Alhambra, to bluesy “Moose Trax” & “Going to New York” this CD pretty much ahs something for just about everyone. You will also notice some very impressive cover songs on this CD. From Santo & Johnny’s classic “Sleepwalk” to Brazilian classic “Manha De Carnival” to Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” there are truly some impressive takes on many classical gems.
The mix is not what I would call world class, but actually manages to keep it's head above water delivering a conservative, old time rag band feel to it. It's fair to say this catalogue is very " cover-song heavy", roughly 50% of the catalogue. I really wish there were say 3 or 4 more original songs on here beside all the covers. At the end of the day listeners may respect Manuel Bruce Delbridge & his friends more their impressive cover songs than for their own originality & songwriting prowess. It’s also fair to say this CD spreads itself way to thin crossing to many musical boundaries. At last count ten - including Jazz, Blues, 50’s Rock & Roll, Spanish, Latin, Brazilian, Caribbean, Classic Americana & even songs possessing remnants of Barber Shop Quartet & even classical. At the end of the day this is an excessive musical journey that can be classified as even to diverse.
In close “Manual is Back with Friends” is a blast to listen to, & is in itself an impressive musical production from start to finish. It’s strong suit – its amazing musical variety, & world class musicianship. The songs are extremely melodic, & will no doubt lift your spirits without even trying. Some songs are sung in Spanish tongue, while others in English, some with conservative acoustical ensembles, others with full on Electric band delivery. Either way the musicianship is first rate, the songs are short and sweet musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Hats off to Alejandro Diaz, a frequent collaborator of Manuel's over the years who also plays guitar, mandolin, & many other stringed instruments on the CD. So sit back, crack open a ice cold Corona, & get ready to let Manuel & all his friends get your toe a tapping with this impressive new collection of 12 amazing songs.
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