|To borrow from an old Mark Knopfler song, "Sometimes it all comes together,
baby, sometimes you're gonna lose it all." Well, on this brilliant album by Harry Manx and Kevin Breit, "it
all comes together" wonderfully. Instrumental virtuosity, class, taste, vocals, lyrics, recording quality
and visual artwork combine in a masterpiece of musicality, which ranges in mood from down home to ethereal. Jubilee is a lexicon of tone, within a
very expansive musical perspective.
"Diving Duck Blues" opens up and gets your attention with Billy Gibbons-style pick harmonics, then immediately goes into some nice Danny Gatton-style chord voicings over a smoothly rolling bass line, so before the terrific vocals even begin, you sense you're in for a treat. And the album delivers on that early promise through an astounding range of material.
I won't recount the story of the initial meeting of these two guitarists (you can check out all the other rave reviews of the album posted on NorthernBlues.com for the inside story, or read the liner notes in the beautiful booklet supplied with the album), but it seems a match made in heaven.
It's not all blues, there are some forays into Indian-sounding tonalities here and there. Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" (Slight Return), complete with wah wah pedal and chops to burn, is delivered with a mixture of lightheartedness and restraint. Danny O'Keefe's hit "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" is nothing less than spectacular -- as throughout the album, Manx's vocal has a slightly grainy, offhand but perfect in spite of itself quality which wonderfully compliments the musical proceedings. "Take This Hammer" is quite reminiscent of The Notting Hillbillies "Railroad Song" -- it's a nice tribute to that excellent band and one of the many standout cuts on the album.
The original songs, some individually written and some co-writes are equal in quality to the more familiar covers. You'll see.
There's also some great slide guitar playing on a variety of instruments - Breit and Manx connote, at different times, everything from a Jerry Douglas dobro to a Mike Henderson Silvertone, and whole lot of other things besides, on a pretty comprehensive collection of instruments. All within a very spacious-feeling, high fidelity mix.
"Jubilee is a lexicon of tone, within a very expansive musical perspective."