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Harry Manx & Kevin Breit "Strictly Whatever"
When it comes to the Canadian Music Scene, Harry Manx and Kevin Breit are becoming a staple. Harry Manx and Kevin Breit are still relatively young as far as their careers are concerned, yet they have already managed to both compile amazingly impressive resumes. Harry Manx, who is often referred to as the “Mysticssippi” Blues Man, because of he expertise in melding both East and West music together and therefore, "creating musical short stories that wed the tradition of the Blues with the depth of classical Indian ragas". Over the last 10 years, Harry Manx has released 11 Albums and has garnered a room full of awards including, "seven Maple Blues Awards, six Juno nominations, the Canadian Folk Music Award in 2005 for Best Solo Artist and won CBC Radio’s “Great Canadian Blues Award” in 2007." His most recent accomplishment was receiving a Juno nomination for “Blues Album of the Year”, for his release, "Bread and Buddha".
Kevin Breit also sports a lengthy list of accomplishments and accolades which include, "performing on recordings that have earned 13 Grammy Awards. Kevin has recorded 2 albums with Harry Manx which was awarded a Maple Blues Award for best acoustic act. He was honoured with a ‘Musician of the Year’ Award from the Toronto Musician’s Association. With the Sisters Euclid, he has recorded six CDs, and received a Juno Award for the Run Neil Run recording. Kevin was awarded a Gemini Award for his collaboration with Misha Brueggergossman for Both Sides Now...a celebration of Joni Mitchell." Kevin has also performed and recorded with many a contemporary music giant, including Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash, k.d. lang, Holly Cole, Amos Lee, Jane Siberry, Lou Reed, Carlos del Junco, Janis Ian, the Rankins, Suzie Vinnick, Ian Tyson, Celine Dion, and Celine Dion, to just name a very few.
"Strictly Whatever", marks the 3rd collaboration between Harry Manx and Kevin Breit, and is the 2nd release together for Stony Plain Records.
"Strictly Whatever" consists of 12 Tracks, 9 of which are new songs, with Kevin Breit writing 6 ("Nothing I Can Do", "Looking For A Brand New World", "Hippy Trippy", "Little Ukelele", "There Was A Girl", "Dance With Delilah") and Harry Manx writing 3 ("Note To Self", "Looking For A Plan", "Carry My Tears Away") .
Track 1 "Sunny" was written by Bobby Hebb. "Sunny" is one of the most covered popular songs, with hundreds of versions released. BMI rates "Sunny" number 25 in its "Top 100 songs of the century. "Hebb wrote the song after 22 November 1963, the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Hebb's older brother Harold was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and many critics say that those events inspired the tune". (WikiPedia) Harry Hanx does the lead vocals on this track and plays the Baritone Guitar. Once again this fine song has been done justice.
Track 2 "Nothing I Can Do" has Kevin Breit at the helm for lead vocals as the pace of the album starts to pick up. Kind of reminded me a bit of a Bob Dylan sound. Kevin plays Electric Guitar on this Track and some parts come across a little Pulp Fiction.
Track 3 "Looking For A Brand New World" is the first Track to have Kevin and Harry performing vocals, something that they do together on 5 of Tracks on "Strictly Whatever". Harry Manx plays Lap Slide Guitar and Kevin Breit plays Electric guitar on this Track, which makes for a really nice interesting sound.
Track 4 "Hippy Trippy", is as the name implies, Hippy and Trippy. This track which is all instrumental was written by Kevin and features Harry on Baritone Guitar and Kevin on Electric Sitar. Quite an interesting track, with some of it almost sounding like Peter Frampton's Talkbox, but without words. A fun Track to listen to.
Track 5 "Mr Lucky", is the second cover song and was originally written by John Lee Hooker and was the title track of his 1991 release.
Track 6 "Note To Self" is the first original from Harry Manx on this Album and it is the second instrumental. This is a short Track, clocking in a 2:11 but it does seem a lot longer then that. Unbelievable good guitar from Harry and Kevin on this Track.
Track 7 "Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep" is a song based on a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye. "Do not stand at my grave and weep is a poem written in 1932 by Mary Elizabeth Frye. Although the origin of the poem was disputed until later in her life, Mary Frye's authorship was confirmed in 1998 after research by Abigail Van Buren, a newspaper columnist." (WikiPedia). Where as, "Note To Self", is the shortest Track on "Strictly Whatever", "Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep" is the longest, clocking in at 5:34. Harry Manx sings on this Track and both Harry and Kevin play the same instruments as on the previous Track, making for a strangely similar sound.
The last 4 Tracks on "Strictly Whatever" are the last 2 Originals from both Harry and Kevin, with Harry's being Tracks 10 & 12 and Kevin's being Tracks 9 & 11. Having the remainder of the Tracks done in this fashion gives you a good clear line to draw between the two performers. All in all 4 really fine songs to end off this Album.
As said earlier, this is the third time around for this Duo and by know it is quite apparent that they are very comfortable with the way they play off of each others strengths.
"Strictly Whatever" is once again a extremely strong and very entertaining Album, by literally two of the best in their field and it is one that will certainly not disappoint any fans of either artist. One can, on the one hand, wonder how many more collaborations are going to happen between Harry Manx and Kevin Breit and, on the other hand, hope that there are many more.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
Additional Info
1.Sunny (3:23)
2.Nothing I Can Do (3:11)
3.Looking For A Brand New World (4:19)
4.Hippy Trippy (3:59)
5.Mr Lucky (3:16)
6.Note To Self (2:11)
7.Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep (5:34)
8.Little Ukelele (2:31)
9.There Was A Girl (4:45)
10.Looking For A Plan (3:45)
11.Dance With Delilah (3:50)
12.Carry My Tears Away (2:45)