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Music Review: Harry Manx – Bread And Buddah

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The ever-restless Manx, a world traveler now based on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island (an artistic haven of sorts), blends blues and folk with exotic strains of Indian classical music to stunning effect.

In addition to guitars (both acoustic and national steel) and piano, Manx plays the mohan veena, a 20-stringed hybrid somewhere between guitar and sitar. He also arranged strings on this, his ninth recording, adding additional depth to a strong collection of wise originals and well-chosen covers.

Manx is a deeply spiritual artist, and material reflects his quest for deeper meaning. His lyrics can be a bit cryptic at times, but he’s dealing with big stuff – life, love, and our place in the world. Covers include a stunning reading of “Long Black Veil” (a tune previously recorded by Manx for “Johnny’s Blues,” a compilation celebrating the late Johnny Cash), and the hushed reverence of Kevin Breit’s “Humble Me,” best known for Norah Jones’ version.

Manx seems to be moving away from the blues a bit with this outing. Charlie Patton’s “Moon Going Down” is given a gently simmering reading powered by subtle but soulful organ. But harmonica is absent altogether, and despite its title, the almost-apocalyptic “Walking Ghost Blues” isn’t a typical twelve-bar. Eastern influences (Manx studied for several years in India with the inventor of the Mohan Veena) are most prominent in the haunting “True To Yourself” and “The Unspoken Quest,” both featuring classical Indian vocals from Samidha Joglekar, and Manx’s own compositions lean to minor-key folky foundations. Somewhat out of place among the primarily gentle and contemplative fare is the rocky “Love Is A Fire,” one of only two tracks to feature Simon Godin’s electric guitar.

With each recording, Manx seems to be marking a point in an ongoing quest for deeper meaning. Bread And Buddah (the man loves his puns, as other titles in his discography attest) is a fascinating, often lovely, and genuinely moving glimpse into a soul more concerned with spiritual health than with amassing wealth. Recommended!

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  • Barbara Sales

    Thankyou for that well written overview. A very interesting CD. I’m going to check out some of his other work too.