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iTunes Review

On Manifestra, Erin McKeown leaps fearlessly from the personal to the political. The Massachusetts-based singer/songwriter has long shown a knack for combining old-time musical elements with a contemporary lyrical attitude. Manifestra takes these tendencies further with its spiky guitar lines, jittery rhythms, and intriguing arrangement ideas. In tones that range from caressing to challenging, McKeown skewers hypocritical office-seekers (“The Politician”), probes high-level deception (“In God We Trust”), and decries sanctioned violence (“The Jailer”). Of particular note is “Baghdad to the Bayou,” a broadside against corporate greed set to a swampy groove that features lyrics cowritten by political commentator Rachel Maddow. More oblique but no less compelling are tracks like the buoyant “Histories” and the thoughtfully tender “Delight/Divide.” Ryan Montbleau duets on “Instant Classic,” a teasing tune edging into Jason Mraz/Colbie Caillat territory. Those who fondly remember Erin’s early hit “Blackbirds” will enjoy “That’s Just What Happened,” a woozy New Orleans excursion punctuated with a sunny gospel interlude.

Customer Reviews


Erin McKeown is one of those stellar few artists refusing to stand still. Each release surprises and challenges, takes you up new roads, and drops you off humming and hungry for more. Manifestra is melodic, strident, loving, sharp-tongued, and tough; a marvelous addition to an already strong catalog. The production is clean, with just enough tasty breaks, sound events and sudden shifts to catch and hold the ear. There is not a throw-away cut on this thing, so buy it all. You'll be glad you did.

Always recognizable, always mutable

Erin McKeown's music strikes a metaphorical chord with the life journeys that everyone experiences. She can reach people by surprise as her music can be met with delightful curiosity and can be universally appreciated by those that may have even doubted what it is she is all about.

Like all great musicians, she has been able to sustain a quite remarkable album release record and an even more impressive live touring schedule record. She lives and breathes her craft and is generous and gracious to her fans in a way that oozes sincerity, humility and the most precious reciprocity.

Her ability to connect to her work is no accident. Only the most reflective, impassioned artist can produce lyrics like she does. Only the most intellectual of artists can appreciate the idea that songwriting should not only be emotional but also be smart. Erin's songs like 'The Jailer' and 'Baghdad to the Bayou' are 2 songs not simply generated by heated political times but generated from her personal experience, immersion, empathy and objectivity. The truly talented artist can blend subjective feelings with factual existence and then project this symbiosis to listeners in an emboldened and enlightened fashion. And Erin is the master of this concept. Her smart, well articulated, intellectual propensity is always balanced with just the right amount of the raw and unedited.

Her music reflects the integrity of a woman who is the truest definition of a creative-multi-tasker: she embraces her inner smarty pants while remembering the feeling of a broken heart, getting rid of the last remnants of an old relationship, delving into the symbolic collective journey of an immigrant, playfully engaging the seriousness and absurdity of politics and religion, all while systematically laying down amazing guitar runs and licks, connecting with her bandmates and connecting with her audience.

Erin has a voice that is unmistakable. Unable to be duplicated. Its a voice with clarity and conviction. A voice that sears into the ears and the memory like an old friend. And like an old friend, her music continues to be something that carries with it a consistency and familiarity but is forever growing, changing and evolving.


Born: 1977 in Northampton, MA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Raised in Fredricksburg, VA, singer/songwriter Erin McKeown began her folk career by performing in local clubs and coffeehouses at night. By day, she attended Brown University to study ethnomusicology, a field that would eventually fuel the diversity and depth of her own music. In 1995, McKeown entered the mid-Atlantic song contest held by the songwriters' association in Washington, DC, and finished as a semi-finalist. With proof that others believed in her talent, she worked hard to found a label...
Full Bio