Penguin Eggs Review

Billy Manzik All Together Now  (Independent)
This is the Thunder Bay native’s second release, which, when you hear it, will send you scrambling for his first one to see how such a thing could happen. Billed as “music for modern times”, it’s a powerful roots-rock assault that hits every pop nerve you’ve ever pumped with proteins. The opening track takes you back to the way music was crafted in the early ’70s, percussion playing a key role while aggressive guitar chords propel both singer and background vocalists into the sweat zone. Ten originals drive the best 40 minutes you ever spent longing for a top-down convertible and a winding mountain road to complete the feeling. Geoff Hillhorst’s B3 strains set the pace for Hannah, an introspective love song waiting to happen, lifted farther skyward by a spellbinding chorus of backup singers, embellished with chiming guitars and full horn arrangement. What next? Little Feat-era Robert Palmer is the instant takeaway from the funky Consigned while the slide guitar that scorches its way through Same Thing Goes joins Manzik’s arsenal of tried-and-true popcraft. On To You, served up with sophisticated layers of sound as Manzik approximates the soulfulness of Paul Kelly. Toss in a wildly animated cover of Fred McDowell’s Highway 61 that shares the kick of Led Zep’s When The Levee Breaks as it adds scorching harp and swampy, hard-driving rhythms. Sheer genius finds its out in oddball, inventive arrangements, from the piano-driven Sounds to the lush, multi-layered The Needle Threads. This is music crafted to fit the singer like a glove and Manzik is confident throughout. You won’t soon fit this release into any pre-existing pigeonhole, which is a large part of its appeal. A rewarding listen and a reassuring throwback to the spirit of originality, cast in its best possible light. — By Eric Thom