Manning returns with a brand new album in 2010, his 11th to be exact, entitled Charlestown. Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Guy Manning is joined by a cast of many fantastic musicians. I think it’s the most he’s had on any album. The Regular Band Contributors, as written on Guy’s website are: Dave Albone (drums & percussion), Chris Catling & Kev Currie (electric guitars), Steve Dundon (flute), Kris Hudson-Lee (bass) and a bunch of amazing guests (too numerous to name, so I’d direct you to Guy’s website for more information).
Opening is the epic title track, “Charlestown“ (35:09), and what a way to open the album with. This track alone is worth the price of admission. Guy just keeps upping the ante with each release. Charlestown, is by far his best album to date. There’s everything on this song, from some roaring Hammond, passionate flute, acoustic & electric guitars and of course, Guy’s vocals. He has a talent for laying out his emotions when he sings.
Following the epic title track is “Caliban & Ariel” (2:57), the shortest song on the album. It’s a lot gentler sounding and a very beautifully done. Guy’s vocals on this really put you to ease.
Next up is “The Man in the Mirror” (6:26), which is a more upbeat sounding song. Aside from the title track, it’s also one of my favorites on the album and Guy’s entire catalog. It has a folk/funk vibe to it and quite progressive sounding too. The vocals are mesmerizing especially during the catchy chorus.
“Clocks” (4:27) is an orchestral based song with some folk sounds. I found myself humming along with this song. Very memorable and in my opinion, another triumph for this album.
“T.I.C” (5:14) is the more rock based song on the album with a bluesy swing feel to it. There’s also some symphonic sounds about halfway through. Some tasty bluesy guitar solos along with some flute and saxophone solos make for a very well crafted song. This is another song I found myself humming along to each time I heard it.
The last track, “Finale” (7:14) is a pure instrumental track (something rare with Manning and a very pleasant surprise), and brings back some musical themes while adding new ones. Within a blink of an eye, it’s over, and you long for more.
So my conclusion is that I’ve listened to Charlestown so many times and it never got old or predictable. I found myself (re)discovering new sounds each time I listened to the album. If you are a fan of Guy Manning’s music and well crafted symphonic progressive rock, then look no further. This is a highly recommended release for 2010!
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on November 30th, 2010