Manuka's To Invent Happiness is a nod to an age before computers became a huge part of making an album. The music is simple, not overly mastered but the outcome is splendid. This collection is the product of the hard work of a father and son duo mixed the old-fashioned way at a home studio of sorts.
Samuel Glazebrook is the artist behind Manuka with credits for the song writing, vocals and all the instrumental used on this organically pure album. You can hear the emotions on each of the tracks with the title track “To Invent Happiness” being my favorite by far. While the vocals are not perfect, there is so much feeling in the music it is easy to get past that. The lyrics are relatable and remind me of a very Americana example of folk rock.
“Pay the Fine” was an interesting song just based on the topic; it boils down to people around you taking responsibility for things that they did not cause. It is a pretty simple topic but very timely and really spoke to me. I enjoyed the unaltered vocals and the supporting instrumentals were outstanding. I was surprised by the fact that none of the songs on this set were drum heavy since Glazebrook is a drummer by trade. It was a pleasant glimpse into his other talents for sure.
“Talk to Me” was an instrumental snippet that I enjoyed but also wondered why it was so short. There is some great pure talent there and I would like to hear more from all aspects of this album. The folk roots seem to intersect with just enough rock to keep this album interesting and current.
“Brother” and “Who Are You Now' round out the collection with a continuation of timeless lyrics and unaltered vocals. It takes a real level of both talent and vulnerability to put out a first album without feeding it through the available computer programs to smooth out the edges. I was impressed by this risk and enjoyed hearing the organic ways the pieces came together.
As I listened to the set I imagined hearing it live but then I realized this would be impossible since the group is really a one-man set up. I know that Glazebrook has drummed in several bands but I wonder what kind of an impact the untapped talents would have if he found a band to play live with. It is time for him to step forward and out from behind the drum set to give it a try.
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