“Manuel Is Back With Friends” may just be the most eclectic title that we here at NeuFutur Magazine have had the chance to review this year. The disc begins with “Can’t Go To Work Anymore”, a song that will win over listeners with an earnest set of vocals and an instrumental set that warmly invites through guitar and harmonica sections. “Hot Chicken Soup” has a similarly gleeful demeanor, with Bruce’s vocals simultaneously touching upon twenties folk and a more Phil Ochs type of sound. Where each of these types of tracks are impressive on their own merits, I feel that listeners will be blown away with the instrumental side of things beginning on the five-plus minutes of “Manha De Carnaval”. This traditional-flavored track will remind listeners of classical Spanish flamenco music, while Bruce varies up this tried and true style with the inclusion of a bluesy, sizzling harmonica line.
“Manuel Is Back With Friends” ends just as strong as it starts; “Going To New York” feels like a transitory track. By that, I mean that the song continues the same tradition of eclecticism and high quality that the rest of the album has shown listeners, but also looks forward to subsequent recordings. While Bruce may bring listeners to a New York juke-joint with a bouncy, jazz-fueled track, I would have to claim that his eyes are fixed southward, to a Louisiana bayou. Regardless of where geographically Bruce’s sound may be during a track, the different cuts on “Manuel Is Back With Friends” showcase that Bruce is definitely a man of the world.
Where there may be a number of different genres touched during an album, Bruce’s work here deftly mixes different approaches, styles, and creates in this title a fully unique sound that will impressive and appease fans of disparate music approaches. Where Bruce does touch upon traditional South American styles and a more slow-baked Tex-Arkana sound more heavily than some other nuances that are present, each subsequent track here gives listeners yet another facet of Bruce. Give the thirteen tracks on this album a few spins, just so you can properly appreciate each dense, fulfilling composition.
Top Tracks: Can’t Go To Work Anymore, Manha De Carnaval
Manuel Bruce – Manuel Is Back With Friends / 2010 Self / 13 Tracks /