John Mann December Looms Independent John Mann of Spirit of the West has been distracted from music lately by spending his time as an actor in Hollywood North. So it is great to hear he hasn‚t departed the musical stage for good. Mister Mann is his solo project, and what you get is a return to his alt.folk roots. Just John, a guitar and his trademark gravelly voice perfectly suited to the songs about his Port Town ˆ Vancouver. A standout on December Looms is My Little Lamb ˆ a song of warning from a father that all young girls should listen to and take to heart. A brilliant piece of insightful work. December Looms delivers a musical experience that recalls a great night at a small, intimate coffee house.
John Mann returns to his barebones alt-folk roots with the beautiful 'December Looms', using just his acoustic guitar and warm voice to create a quiet gem of a recording, filled with beautiful melodies and observational insight. Mann has always been an observational writer; his lyrics are simple, yet filled with lyric gems: 'miles and miles of empty track twisted round inside my head once I had a train of thought But I drank to forget then forgot love's first name what was love's first name?' (from 'I've Been Bad') When I Played Around with Knives‚ is a nostalgic reflection on past innocence, 'My Little Lamb' is a touching and true father-child story, and 'Port Town' details his personal relationship with his home city of Vancouver. Another highlight is 'I Play Blind', showing off his lyrical brilliance as he chronicles a couple clinging together unhappily yet needily in a failing relationship. His world-weary tone is comfortable even when emoting the gravest cynicism, and his musicianship is always more than capable. Highly recommended.
Rating 3 1/2 Mister Mann: December Looms (Independent). A stark but inviting set from Spirit of the West's John Mann, alone with his voice, guitar and razor-sharp mind.
A 24-year veteran of Vancouver’s indefatigable folk pop outfit Spirit of the West, John Mann has adopted the moniker Mister Mann for his first solo record since his 2002 debut, Acoustic Kitty. Mann’s solo material has none of the frenetic catchiness of SotW’s best-known songs. Rather, Mann lopes along at an easy pace, backing adept lyrics with simple instrumentation. On this sophomore release, Mann has stripped everything right down to bare bones, boiling his musical sensibility down to the concentrated strumming of a single acoustic guitar behind his acerbic lyrics and warmly familiar vocals. At its best, December Looms is gripping. “I Play Blind” offers the best display of his heart-rending lyrical skill as he describes a couple in denial, clinging to each other despite the obvious fissures in their relationship. And “The New Normal” represents a perfect melding of Mann’s comfortable, world-weary voice, his stunningly cynical lyrics and capable musicianship.(Independent)