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New Album "A Matter Of Life & Death - The Journal Of Abel Mann" a concept album based around the character Guy created in TALL STORIES.  So there some flashbacks to Tall Stories, that's nicely done. The album contains no great epics so as I was used of Guy. The story- line is very important on this one. The songs flow into one another, there is light and shade, dark moody and jazzy, folky, rocky everything is in there, and that is also in line with the lyrics, although they're not very happy....
I like Laura on that sax, she's giving a few nice solo's on this one too, also Gareth on lead guitar is rockin' a few times. It al became very accessible, the production is from a high standard and the art-work done by Ed Unitsky is marvelous (he did also the Tangent and Flower Kings albums). If there're people who are buying the CD because of the artwork alone, i would understand.
The CD opens with The Dream, a very good way to kick off the concept album. A typical Manning sound. A strong song which will set down the lyrical themes that will be sound throughout the whole theme around of Abel Mann thoughts when he starts to makes his final journey. A nice guitar in the middle section, cello, whistle and the moog played by Andy makes that this song works out well.
Nobody's Fool is a ballad with Guy and his Spanish guitar.
The third song “Omens” kicks in with the typical Guy Manning style, then the guitar is getting loose; great. The lyrics are not the most happy ones. Nice melodic tune carried by the guitar.
Finally Laura gets more attention, but not her sax but her voice, singing, muttering. It fits perfectly with the mood the song is breathing. Very nice piano bridge in the middle section.
Finally a bit more cheerful music in Silent Man. The cello is the main instrument in this song. The cello was used like it was the solo- guitar. Nice one of my favorite tracks.
The most proggy (and jazzy) song is Falling Down? Rising up! Again great lines, Mannings voice is here impressive, certainly the first two verses. Sometimes I'm in doubt with his voice, he has a good range, he plays with his voice it's never boring, he's plays with the intonation, but sometimes there is that small lisp that doesn't lift up the strong songs. The song has some nice tempo changes, keyboard solo's, sax solo, piano parts all what a good song needs.
Another ballad with Life Disguise, followed by the proggy Out of my Life. Very strong intro, you know this song will work out well. Flashbacks to Tall Stories; "The tide is turning and we cling to the shore, starfish on the ocean floor. In my life... was there nothing more?"
Midnight Sail is a song that will become on stage a success I think, nice chorus, nice rockin' rhythm.
If you like Guy Manning for what he has achieved in the past, you certainly must buy this one and you'll enjoy it! If you've not got an album of Guy, this one will make you buy his older, more proggy, ones, because this album let you hear that he's a good composer, he knows how songs must go, he knows how to fascinate you, makes turning point and keeps it accessible. And his writings skills are from a high level.

Guy - vocals, guitars, keyboard, bass, drums, percussion & mandolin,
Laura - saxes,
Gareth Harwood - electric guitars, vocals,
Rick Aston - bass,
John Tippping - drums,
Ian Fairnbain - fiddle,
Neil Harris - piano, percussion, vocals,
Tim Moon - cello,
Andy Tillison - moog solo, keyboards