West Eats Meet
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WEST EATS MEET (2004, Dog My Cat Records)
“… Listening to this record is sure to stir the romanticist and dreamer in everyone who has the pleasure of hearing it, as Manx’s exceptional song writing is bested only by his rich smooth baritone vocals and his use of diverse instruments such as the mohan veena (20 stringed sitar) and tamboura alongside lap steel, banjo and harmonica. The accompaniment is sparse throughout this album, with only occasional tabla drums and keyboards added to the above mentioned instrumentation. In places you will hear some absolutely lovely background vocals, as well as harmonies, provided by newcomer Emily Braden and Australian trio The Heavenly Lights. Listen closely for Ms. Braden though, as her voice is remarkable.
To choose highlights is a difficult task, as every track on this tasty record deserves a mention. You surely can’t go wrong with the opening cover of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me,” which features some slick harp and picking by Manx, giving it a down home yet big city feel all at once. Harry’s vocals capture center stage on ”Make Way For The Living,” a soft spoken number whose beautiful background harmonies led by the sweet warbling of Emily Braden lighten and brighten a number that could easily be mistaken for having dark and dismal overtones. The following tune,”The Great Unknown,” is equally lush in harmony and lyrical content while pondering the unforeseen future.
Manx gives the Mohan veena a proper workout on the instrumental “Forgive and Remember,” accompanied only by Niel Golden on tabla drums. Golden’s work will blow your doors off on the following cover of ”Sittin’ On Top Of The World.” This familiar standard has new life breathed into it as never before; it’s presented as an Indian/bluegrass banjo raga complete with silky three part harmony by The Heavenly Lights … If you thought Harry was a good songwriter before, wait until you wrap your ears around this one.
What makes Harry Manx’s music so appealing is his ability to tell you an entire story in the space of about four minutes … West Eats Meet is about as close to flawless as an album as they come. It’s one of those rare jewels that surprises you upon the first listen and grows on you with every subsequent spin. On a scale of 1-10, this one is a 20.”
– Steve Hinrichsen, Blues Bytes
Produced by Jordy Sharp
Engineered by Wynn Gogol
Harry Manx: Vocals, lap slide guitars, Mohan Veena, 6-string banjo, harmonica & tamboura
Additional vocals by Emily Braden, Sara Marreiros, Christine Best & the Heavenly Lights
Niel Golden on tablas / percussion
Wynn Gogol on keyboards
1. Help Me 3:09
2. Make Way for the Living 4:25
3. Shadow of the Whip 3:35
4. The Great Unknown 4:05
5. Forgive & Remember 3:36
6. Sittin’ on Top of the World 3:27
7. That Knowing Look of Fate 3:36
8. Stir a Little Breeze 3:28
9. Tough & Tender 4:01
10. The Ways of Love 4:32
11. Something of your Grace 3:33
12. Hector’s Song 2:16
2005 Canadian Folk Music Award winner for Best Solo Artist & Producer of the Year
2005 Juno Award nomination
Top CDs of 2004 – Acoustic Guitar Magazine
“With each album Manx releases, his deep Indo-Canadian roots music becomes more defined and further accomplished. The title West Eats Meet is a play on Ravi Shankar’s “West Eats Meat,” a nod both to an Indian musical giant and Manx’s own western usage of Indian instruments, folk melodies and styles. Manx strays a bit from his standard blues idiom with this album and introduces gospel flavours with the help of backing singers Emily Braden and Australian trio the Heavenly Lights. The latter add depth and a churchy soul to “The Great Unknown” and, along with Manx’s banjo, “Sitting on Top of the World” becomes a down from the mountain call to worship out of an as yet undiscovered Baptist/Hindu hymnal.
One of two covers on the album, Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” features an under pad of delicate drones and a slinky slide solo injecting a little Rajasthan into this Chicago standard. Manx’s instrumentals are always ingenious takes on sitar-like phrasing, note bending and melodies and the two offered here — “Forgive and Remember” and “Hector’s Song” don’t disappoint.
Where early records like Dog My Cat and Wise and Otherwise often separated the blues material from the Indian-influenced material, West Eats Meet makes an effort to merge them on nearly every song. Tabla and Dholak add basic but fundamental percussion, complimenting Manx’s steady backbeat accent on his guitar strings, and not only does he play his Mohan Veena and tamboura on many tracks, he even sings in a raga style on “The Ways of Love.” This is the album’s greatest strength as it highlights what really makes Manx a unique artist. Very few people are making this sort of world folk blues fusion and if Harry Manx continues steeping this melting pot, the world will have to take notice of this innovator soon.”
– Brent Hagerman, Exclaim! Magazine, June 8, 2004