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Album Review

Harry Manx is a kind of blues loner: He plays a unique East-meets-West blues that's more intellectual than the usual 12-bar jams. On Jubilee, he tries to be sociable by teaming up with jazz session guitarist Kevin Breit. And while their musical party is mostly a satisfying endeavor, it's too up and down to count as a joyous noise. In many cases, the album sounds much like a Manx solo outing. The down-and-out theme of "Weary and You Run," as well as Manx's Indian-influenced guitar sound, could have come from any of his albums. He plays slide guitar with the weight of the world in every note — sorrow and seriousness penetrate every note. Breit's influence lightens the tone a bit, especially on the instrumental back and forth of "When Abbott Met Costello" and the upbeat and slightly off-kilter "No Particular Place to Be/Itchy Knees." His limited vocal range is evident on faster tempo songs, like "Funny Business," hinting that he might want to stick to what he knows best. In addition to originals, the duo takes on some interesting covers, to mixed results. Kudos are deserved for their version of the Doobie Brothers' "Taking It to the Streets," which sounds like Steely Dan and Ravi Shankar decided to jam together. Manx's seriousness adds another dimension to the light-hearted "Diving Duck Blues," one of the album's highlights. When he sings "If the river was whiskey and I was a diving duck, I'm going to swim to the bottom and you know I'm never, ever coming up," you wonder if he actually might do it. But they should have stopped before they got to Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile." They riff on an abstraction of the main hook, losing much of the soul of the song, and the cool tact they use, sucks the beauty from the original. A jubilee is a supposed to be a celebration of grand proportions, and this one doesn't make it out of the soiree stage.


Born: Isle Of Man

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Harry Manx has been described as an essential link between the music of the East and the music of the West. He fuses traditional blues with classic Indian ragas to create a distinctive sound. Manx, primarily a guitarist, who also plays harmonica and banjo, was born on the Isle of Mann and moved with his family to Canada. He left home in his teens to live in Europe, Japan, India and Brazil, carefully perfecting his compelling live show on streets and in cafes...
Full bio
Jubilee, Harry Manx
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