Monday, September 19, 2011

Strictly Whatever reviewed by Steve Jones

Strictly Whatever
Harry Manx & Kevin Breit
Stony Plain Records
12 tracks/43 minutes

Manx and Breit are two Canadian masters of things stringed and they offer an assortment of instruments and sounds here that will captivate those looking for a modern variety in style and sound.  While not a true blues album there are elements here and there that will give blues fans something to chew on and the rest will satisfy anyone with the love of interesting music.

Baritone and electric, baritone, electric and National Steel, lap slide and electric, baritone and electric sitar, electric and National Steel, lap slide and ukulele, banjo and electric, baritone and mandolin, and mohan veena, lap slide, acoustic and electric guitars are the various combinations of instruments offered by these two talented guys.  They fuse blues, jazz, rock, folk, world music, and Indian music into a body of delightful sounds while sharing the vocals back and forth (and occasional together) on the CD,

The boys penned ten of the songs themselves.  The CD begins with a cover of the classic "Sunny" with Manx singing and the baritone guitar deeply bleating behind a stinging electric guitar lead and a little National Steel filler.  I was intrigued when I heard this, and did not really know what to expect given the mix of instruments listed.  They then get a little driving and rocking on "Nothing I Can Do", folky and funky on "Looking For A Brand New World", psychedelic on "Hippy Trippy", and kind of country bluesy on "Mr Lucky".  So five songs into the album and they were all over the genres of music.

The next two tracks are new age and new age meets the blues and heavy metal.  "Note to Self" could be something right out of the Windham Hill songbook and "Do Not Stand and Weep On My Grave" is a very cool tune written by Mary Elizabeth Frye with a heavy guitar line overlaid on new age sounds.  Ukulele predominates "Little Ukulele", a folky and fun track. "There Was a Girl" is a country rocker with Breit laying some bottle neck out nicely on the guitar solo.  On "Looking for a Plan" they sing of life’s troubles and pleasures, with lyrics commenting on our lives while they rock with a fuzzy sound.  "Dance With Delilah" is a bouncy track with bone crunching mohan veena along with electric and acoustic guitars and lap slide.  BIg, bad, cool sounds there. They close with "Carry My Tears Away", a sorrowful ballad with mandolin rounding out the soulful sound.
 Ok, so it ain't exactly blues, but it is very interesting and I think the variety of stringed things played at high level with interest most blues, rock and country music fans.  The songs have great stories and the variety of stylistic play coupled with all sorts of guitar work make this an very strange and fun ride.  Stony Plain has put out a variety of interesting stylized albums over the years and they continue to offer different music than will make you sit up, listen, and think a bit as you enjoy them.

Reviewed by Steve Jones

No comments: