Manning - Margaret's Children,
This is the follow-up to Manning 2006’s ‘Anser’s Tree’ (yes there have been other album in between, so consider this a part two), and just to ensure that this is apparent the artwork and lettering is in the same fashion as the release from five years earlier. All of the concerns I had from the previous album have been mitigated and this is a much more polished affair. There are elements of this album that could have been released forty years ago, and again the musical arrangements are wonderful. Here Guy has exemplified that not only is he skilled in the art of songwriting and lyrics but also in understanding what it required to take a song to the next level when it comes to additional instruments and their role within that. Take the beginning of “Amy Quartermaine...”, this seventeen minute piece starts with acoustic guitars, bouzouki and mandolin, yet it is the violins that really makes this – that and the lack of drums, bass or electric guitar. So when they all make an entrance, with the percussion providing a very funky beat, the song is transformed.
Although ‘Charlestown’ is a very good album, and one that I enjoyed immensely, it isn’t really in the same league as this one. I think I have probably heard most of Guy’s albums over the years – both solo and with other bands – and this is definitely one of the finest to date. This is an album that any proghead can investigate with confidence, knowing that it is something that they will want to play time and again.