Joe Mannix

White Flag

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Singer/songwriter Joe Mannix immediately can be placed in a fine niche of performers such as Michael Penn and Neil Finn. The pop sensibilities oozing from "Silver Girl" on White Flag are quite apparent, as is his above-average lyrics. With vocal and acoustic guitar setting the tone, Mannix also brings Ryan Adams circa Gold on the lovable "Bellerose Hill." "All hail and applaud the wounded modern man," he sings over the traces of roots pop. "Light After the Darkness" is another strong acoustic ballad that reflects a bit of Ron Sexsmith although the humming in the song recalls the melody to "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper. "Bamboo" has more of a melancholic melody with a faint organ in the distance. The most accessible or radio-friendly effort is the pop/rock of "Higher Intervention." Creating a lofty plateau for himself, Mannix moves into a murky rock area with the title track à la R.E.M.. The appropriately named "Dream" is a brilliant lullaby that the singer takes great care in delivering. "Everyman" comes close to constructing a modern-day approach to Springsteen's or Dylan's early work. Possibly a reference to the events of September 11, the song speaks about standing up for the common person. "Last Gang in Town" has a military drumbeat to it and includes a choir and accordion, but isn't one of the stronger songs. "The Echo" shows Mannix has an ear for quality melodies. If there's one drawback to White Flag, the 16 songs at times travel down the same musical road. But overall, if "Moving On" is a measuring stick, Mannix should be moving into a bigger spotlight shortly.

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