Pat McManus is a fighter, proving his stamina and resolve have not been shaken over the duration of what has been a tough uphill career.
Despite supporting and touring with Cheryl Crow, Bon Jovi and Ratt amongst a plethora of other artists and bands in the past with various incarnations of a band; whether it be solo, Mama's Boys or Celtus for example, he works relentlessly hard and deserves far more credit than it seems he receives.
Incidentally, there's a track on this latest album called 'Lazy Days' which is a moment of reminiscing about the Mama's Boys lyrically speaking. But instead of dwelling too much on the past, since recording his debut solo album 'In My Own Time' in 2007, let's focus on his latest solo offering 'Dark Emerald Highway' which is his fourth solo studio album.
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If you're a fanatical follower of Pat's career then you'll already have this new album as it surfaced last year and you'll not be too bothered with what I'm sharing with you now. For those who are unaware of this latest album which he adds to an interesting canon of work, I shall proceed.
'Dark Emerald Highway' is dedicated to Pat's Dad, John McManus Snr, and contains ten tracks which are accessible Rock music with a Blues leaning and incorporating a selection of other influences. Joining McManus on the road out touring while he tackles lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars along with his contributions on violin and Bouzooki, are Marty McDermott on bass guitar and backing vocals and drummer Paul Faloon. The studio-based line-up is more extravagant.
'Loving Kind' is one highlight that sways with a gentle presence and a familiarity which brings sincere warmth with it.
'Transformations' starts out with a shuffle before settling in to its groove. Punching with each step forward during the verses and then finding an altogether different gear as it beckons another listen. The opening song ('S Before X') is infectious and driven as is 'Let's Turn It Up' with the latter sharing a hook-laden chorus which may find itself pulling at your memory when you least expect it. The former includes a rap by Chris Smith.
'Cold Town' hints at a soft Celtic shadow over what is a slow burning Blues track. The reflective solemn tones are removed once the ears are addressed by the evident funk element brought to the table for 'Fallen Angel'. Another catchy straight ahead rocker can be unearthed when you hear 'Shame On You' which leads us in to 'Belfast Boy'.
'Belfast Boy' is unadulterated and pure Celtic dripping with the essence of the Irish flavour with each and every single note and chord. It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine Phil Lynott singing on this track if he was still alive. It is the longest track on this collection and is a celebration and a joy to listen to.
The final track is an exercise in how to play frantically as the instrumental salutes what has been; winding up what has been a journey exploring a multitude of styles carefully and expertly blended together with warmth and self-awareness of what is true to the heart of Pat McManus.
S Before X
Let's Turn It Up
Shame On You