Tony McManus

The Maker's Mark

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    8
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This is an album not just of guitar music, lovely as that is, but also just as much about the expensive handcrafted guitars that make that music. There are 15 different ones, each instrument getting its own showcase track, with them all coming together for the final "Valse Des Belugas." Beautifully and lovingly recorded, they're guitars of great distinction and glorious tone, none more so than the one that features on "Parov's Daichevo/Doina," where the bone saddle black make it sound like a sitar. But to focus too strongly on what makes the music is to take away from the music itself, with is sweetly melodic. Scotsman McManus is a master, at ease in so many styles, adept in several tunings, and with the gift of honing in and exploring a melody with wonderful ease. He never struts his technique, formidable as it is, but prefers to allow the music to speak for itself, and it's very, very eloquent. All too often, solo instrumental albums are little more than background music, but this focuses the ears, seducing effortlessly and throwing in a few little surprises here and there. All in all, a delicious, and very substantial, concoction.

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