Manx’s East-West blend too bland

By Liz Keeney

Harry Manx

Isle of Manx

Dog My Cat… Harry Manx

Isle of Manx

Dog My Cat Records Inc.

Rocks like: George Harrison

Grade: C+

With the release of his new album, Isle of Manx, veteran musician Harry Manx once again tries to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western music.

Although this might not exactly be choice listening material for the collegiate demographic, Isle of Manx definitely offers an intriguing blend of the two cultures. Whether it is the best of both worlds is less certain.

Manx’s musical talent is obviously impressive: He plays the mohan veena  like it’s a slide guitar. And after living and performing in Japan for 10 years and studying in India for another five, it’s no surprise that his love for and skill with traditional Eastern instruments shows.

Where Manx falls short, though, is withhis lyrics. Sometimes, they are the sweetly earnest cries Western ears have come to expect from their blues musicians. But most of the time, they’re downright cheesy.

“Tijuana,” the album’s opening track, is almost painful in its twangy ridiculousness. It doesn’t help that Manx’s voice — which for the most part has a polished gruffness that works well with the arrangements — sounds more like something you’d hear at a state fair than in a song from a well-traveled musician. Manx also loses points for the unbearable cheesiness of the album name itself: Isle of Manx. (For those of you who were wondering, the album cover is a picture of an island shaped like a guitar. Clever, no?)

On a technical note, Manx manages to blend the two very different styles of the East and the West well, but overall there’s not very much pop. Manx takes two styles known for their emotion and excitement and makes them sound just shy of dull; it’s a shame, because he clearly has talent. Isle of Manx provides good background music for a Midwestern yoga retreat, but unfortunately not much else.

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