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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Bird Mancini

Year of Change

Review by Josh Turner

The name is taken from the two lead musicians of the band. This would be Ruby Bird (accordion, harmonica, melodica, lead & back up vocals) and Billy Carl Mancini (guitars, percussion, lead & back up vocals). Rounding out this completely co-ed quartet is Kevin Mahoney (bass, lead & back up vocals) and Nancy Delaney (drums & back up vocals). The album is quite diverse from song to song. The change in instrumental style and the trade-off between vocal leads make for a disc that is quite different, stimulating, and unpredictable.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Wrong People
This has the temperament, boogie, and swagger of a Bonnie Raitt ditty. Bird's voice is a lot like Bonnie's. Her harmonica is a nice touch too.
You're My Obsession
This is a bluesy Beatles tune. One of the men takes lead and the harmonica sticks around for another series.
Don't You Fall
The pace slows down and the lights dim for the steamy opening montage from a James Bond flick. The bass bursts in your mouth like buttery salty popcorn. The guitar twangs like a fizzing cup of cola as it's sucked through a straw.
Oh, Babe
This song is Billy Joel, Matthew Sweet, Elvis Costello, and Bruce Springsteen all rolled into one. The guitar playing is superb here.
Year of Change
Legends will come to mind in the title track. The melodies sound peculiarly similar to Jim Hendrix's Little Wing. The singing invokes images of Jeff Buckley. The amazing harmonies and added instrumental complexities make this the best song on the album.
Sirens in the Night
This song moves slowly like rolling tumbleweeds in a dry desolate desert. This is more unplugged and less lively than their earlier songs. The acoustic guitar and bells gives it an old-fashioned feel.
Love Holds On
Bird's voice continues to show its range. In this song, she sings like Donna Summers. This is a spirited ballad suited for a dance hall. Stars from a disco ball roam the floors and climb the walls.
River of Sighs
This song would be welcome on NDV's Karma. "River of Signs" sounds a bit like "The River is Wide" off that album.
You're Not Alone
The singing and guitar playing are reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughn. This is straightforward blues.
Just Wait and See
This is quite a switch from the last. The song is a slice of country. Bird is a blend of Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton. The guitars and keyboards incorporate a little jazz into the mix.
Long Gone Blues
This is far from downtrodden as the blues in this song is incredibly upbeat. It reminds me of Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business". There is even a riff straight out of K.C. & The Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)". It is quite apparent that the blues are long, long gone.
Freedom Soul
Both the old and the new are encountered here. This track takes fifties bebop from the past and merges it with modern pop.
Someone Like You
A variety of influences can be heard in this song. The opening sequence sounds like The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Bird's singing teeter-totters between disco and country. One moment she's Diana Ross, she's Jo Dee Messina the next. She crosses genres within a single breath and shows herself to be one distinct diva. This fusion of styles makes this another highlight on the album.
The Future's Begun
The last track demonstrates refined songwriting skill, yet it still manages to leave enough room for some experimental guitar playing. After keeping our interests through a collection of varied pieces, Bird Mancini finishes on a sound note.
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