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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jesse Manley

Devil’s Red

Review by Gary Hill

Jesse Manley’s musical creations are unique and enchanting. His sound covers a lot of musical territory, but if you had to sum it up with one genre title it would probably be “folk.” That said, you’ll hear things like jazz, country, bluegrass, alternative rock and even progressive rock in this mix. It’s an entertaining album that never struggles for lack of variety.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review

This comes in feeling a bit like bluegrass meets folk music. It grows out from there, though, into a track that has some 1980s music along with some definite modern progressive rock built into the mix. The arrangement is deceptively complex and compelling.

Find Your Way Home
There is a playful sort of folk air to some of this number, but it also works out to sounds along the line of French café music. This is a nice change of pace. It’s slow moving and quite tasty.
The Longest Day
This time around those bluegrass elements really dominate the piece. It’s bouncy, folky and fun. Despite the title, a day with this kind of music would not be long at all. We get some tasty slide guitar on this number.
The Mood You're In
A short little introduction ends. Then we get a shuffling kind of bluegrass sound. The vocals come in over the top, bringing into more of an alternative folk sound. This modulates closer to rock music than a lot of the other music ever does.
Vagabond Hill
Starting with more of that café music meets folk element, this works out to one of the most alternative rock sounding bits of the set. It’s sort of a stripped down jazzy arrangement, at the same time. There is definitely a jam band element to this cut.
The Game
We still get folk and other elements here, but this one is really an energized alternative rock tune. It’s quite a cool number. It works out later to something not that far removed from modern progressive rock and shoegaze music.
Devil's Red
Starting with tasty bluegrass music, this works out to an energized number that’s got folk and jam band sounds along with that bluegrass texture.
Musical Chairs
Café music, folk and jazz all merge on this quirky, but tasty number.
Oh Lord
The musical concepts here aren’t greatly altered, but this is a different tune, unique in its own right. It’s also the longest cut here and there’s a bit of a blues element to it, although that’s pretty minor. Around the five and a half minute mark it shifts out to a completely new segment that’s more purely café music meets bluegrass. Then it works to a rather progressive rock oriented jam.
Final Mistake
Here is a folky sort of jam that’s quite tasty. It’s mellow and perhaps not one of the strongest pieces here. Still, it gets kind of intricate and pretty as it continues.
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