There’s something nice about growing old(er). Yes, the body is less performant. Some parts hurt. But experience and knowledge adds up through the years, and it makes some things more interesting. I’ve been writing about records and concerts for almost 25 years now, and have been in love with music for as long as I can remember.

The best thing about growing old loving music is that I can follow a musician’s path, see his/her musical evolution, his changes, his path through life as he/she wonders in the windings of life. It’s almost as if it’s some kind of (one way) relationship. Like a biography being written, album after album. In some case its history in the making, with music touching millions, influencing thousands.

One of my music “buddies” is Harry Manx. I’ve never met the guy, but I sometimes feel I “know” him a bit, as I’ve been listening to his music for the last 10 years or so, watched him play live 3 or 4 times. He’s part of my family vacation souvenirs, as I saw him play at Le Vieux Treuil, on the magnificent Îles-de-la-Madeleine, a few years ago. He’s got a new album out, titled “20 Strings and the Truth”.

harry manx guitars

Harry Manx is a traveler. Born on the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea, he was raised in Ontario from the age of 6, then left for Europe at 20 to become a busker (street musician). He also lived 10 years in Japan, 12 in India. He’s back in BC at 60. He’s that kind of musician that listens, that has his channels open for new sounds that sooth his soul. Initially, the guy is a wonderful guitarist and charming man. He’s well-known and respected in the jazz/folk/instrumental music communities for his great playing. Everybody loves his slide guitar touch.

But Manx hasn’t always written the most appealing songs, yet. But he handles covers in a great way, appropriate superb songs his own way, like Crazy Love, from Van Morrison (that sadly figures only as an instrumental, here) or Tijuana, from JJ Cale, that we had the pleasure to hear live. He sings them like he owns them, which is the only way to make a great cover. On “20 Strings and The Truth”, he tackles Waiting in Vain from fellow soul-searching mate Bob Marley with the same hope in his voice but with a completely new feel around it.

But the essence of this new album, his 13th in his 25 year-long career, is the perfect mix between his guitar, often acoustic, and his Mohan Veena (that 20 string instrument invented by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt). Manx has been keen to use this strange and unique instrument for the last 15 years, that sounds a lot like a sitar, but actually is more like a guitar on which strings were added, I remember him “warning” us at The Vieux Treuil that he would play a good part of the show on this instrument, not to get scared, that it’s beautiful. And he’s right. It is beautiful. And for the first time, at least to my knowledge, has Manx really succeeded in blending both sounds, both musical cultures, Occident and Orient, with success and harmony. Although his music is very relaxing (Love is Enough), it never sounds cheesy or easy-listening-ish. It is mastered, perfectly balanced, perfectly executed.

Harry Manx isn’t into gimmicks. He’s not making an album for us to do yoga. He’s simply making beautiful and soulful songs, mostly instrumental, that makes your spirit go higher, or deeper, however you see it.

And for this reason, I’m in.

Nice to “see” you, Harry. It’s a pleasure hearing from you again.
“20 Strings and The Truth” will be out February 10, 2015.

20 Strings and The Truth
(Dog My Cat Records, 2015)

-Genre: instrumental blues folk with Indian blend
-In the same mood as Kevin Breit, Ry Cooder, Jeff Martin

Go to Harry’s Facebook fanpage
Go to Harry’s YouTube channel

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About The Author

Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie "Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique" en 2013, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.