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Manning - Akoustik 2

The artist leafs through his back pages, with new tunes to boot.

Guy Manning’s first (mostly) unplugged return to musical pastures old was 2012’s Akoustik.

Given his lo-fi production of late, that and this follow-up aren’t too far removed from his elektrik milieu. Once again, Akoustik 2 is well worth the trip. Among the old glories unearthed is the insistent White Waters. In Marek Arnold’s call-and-response sax, there’s a hint of the resolutely un-prog Bruce Springsteen’s Secret Garden. This pared-down setting is all the better for hearing the lovingly crafted lyrics of, say, Songs From The Bilston House, lifted here by Steve Dundon’s jaunty flute. Relieved of its dated synths and witha superior vocal Flight 19 (from 2001’s Cascade) is a highlight, and three new songs bode well too. The mid-tempoYesterday’s Hero is freighted with Manning’s trademark fatalism and adorned by Ian Fairbairn’s fiddle. The similarly thoughtful Moorland Skies sees the hero ‘crossing mansions of ragged stone’, with a modulation evoking a Boulders-era Roy Wood perhaps. The sweetly nostalgic Saturday Picture Show sees him reminiscing about cosy weekend telly watching, from Grandstand toDoctor Who. If he’s softening with age, it suits him. GRM

Grant Moon is the News Editor for Prog and has been a contributor to the magazine since its launch in 2009. A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.