Thursday, January 10, 2013

Erin McKeown: "Manifestra" (album review)

Manifestra, the forthcoming seventh album from eclectic musician Erin McKeown is a record that should hold appeal for both those who focus on lyrics and those who dig innovative arrangements.  The politically-charged album comes out on January 15th.

McKeown's power is her fearless mashing of genres.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a sound as fresh as her combination of bluesy vocals and groove on the album's opening cut "The Politician".



A World influence seeps in on "The Jailer" as folk soul vocals deliver razor-sharp lyrics, all pumped by a Bhangra-like rhythm.  "That's Just What Happened" swings between a jazzy crawl and a Western saloon-worthy romp.  The strangest twist may very well come on "Histories".  The track has a crackling majesty that's interrupted by a twee electro-pop.

When you blitz genres together there are inevitably some things that just don't work.  Horns on the title track are not enough to rescue it from the ridiculously earnest speak-sing.  "Proof" suffers from a cheesy Adult Contemporary arrangement that obscures any value in the lyrics.  The piano-based "Delight/Divide" sees McKeown coming across as a precious version of Regina Spektor.

One has no choice but to applaud McKweon's bravery and curiosity, and a few missteps aside, her rate of success with her experiments is remarkable.

Best tracks: "The Politician", "The Jailer"

Track listing for Manifestra:
  • The Politician
  • Proof
  • In God We Trust
  • Histories
  • The Jailer
  • Manifestra
  • Delight/Divide
  • Instant Classic
  • That's Just What Happened
  • Baghdad To the Bayou
7.0/10

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