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Emerging from the shadows

Mike Mangione - Tenebrae
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Sept. 12, 2007
Mike Mangione

Review by Tony Bonyata

On Mike Mangione's latest full-length release, Tenebrae, the Milwaukee-based musician has tapped into the well-worn style of singer/songwriter fare. While comparisons to Ray LaMontagne inevitably arise with Mangione's own heartfelt approach to Americana music, Ryan Adams might even be a closer comparison as Mangione brings a similar cache of varying genres to create a richly satisfying collection of indie folk-rock.

The album opens up with the earthy tune "Waiting For No One," which showcases not only Mangione's soulful vocal delivery but also his craft for songwriting - two elements that thankfully continue through the ensuing eleven songs. "You Don't Wanna Leave" is a spirited shotgun wedding of aching roots music and rural rock & roll, while "It's Me Not You" is another standout track with it's snappy rhythm and beautiful strings.

Mangione also successfully channels the southern white soul of The Black Crowes on "First Time: Please Forgive Me," while further displaying his knack for acoustic balladry on numbers such as the poignant "Great Divide" and "A Requiem For The Trash: Damnatio Memoriae."

While his previous 2005 release, There and Back, displayed similar songwriting talents it had some limitations as all of the instruments were performed solely by Mangione and his brother Tom (quite capably performed it should be added, but it didn't leave enough room for the organic growth that occurs with a number of contributing musicians). With sumptuous arrangements and lush production values, courtesy of producer Duane Lundy, as well as a host of gifted musicians (most notably violinists Anna Hess and Kristina Priceman, along with The Scourge of the Sea's drummer Robby Cosenza) weaving their collective talents into this musical tapestry, Tenebrae is undoubtedly Mangione's strongest and most colorful effort to date.

It should be noted that the album's title is Latin for "shadows," and while comparisons to other great artists are often cast upon Mangione, if he continues to produce quality efforts such as this he won't be in the shadows of these greats for long.

For more info and to purchase Mike Mangione's Tenebrae go to:

Watch Mike Mangione's - "It's Me Not You" video

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