Visual Snow from Sandro Manzon is an album that has arrived on my desk in such a timely manner that I would almost consider it fate. As the weather turns cool and the leaves fall, here comes this lovely collection of pop and jazz folk songs that knit a cozy warm sweater around my heart. Manzon is one of those musical artists who composes in 3D. He paints scenes with his music which makes complete sense considering he also does work as a composer on films. His skills translate beautifully into the work of his four-piece band hailing from Ontario. I absolutely loved this so let's see if I can explain why without writing a new testament.
To start, Manzon has one of those timeless voices that won me over with subtlety and vulnerability. He has that kind of voice that I could pick out in a crowd. The production was tuned to his vocal performance so that it feels so incredibly intimate, like he's in the room and you're getting a fabulous personal performance. He has a decent amount of range as well, head over to the track "Look At You" which wooed me to the point that when the song ended I quietly said to myself, "Swoon." He doesn't have to say much to get his message across, the lyrics are often breezy and coy. It's the vocal performance that gives the words their full meaning.
There are so many surprises and unforeseen touches and enhancements tucked away in these songs. Right away the second song "Baltimore Oriole" which features an organic bird call and endearing musical interludes blew me away. This song is both epic and yet small town charming. He wields electronic sampling so effortlessly, giving each song a unique quirk or organic sounding undertone that kept the smells of autumn fresh in my mind at all times. There is a healthy dose of experimental work in this album, and every time it landed on the right side of curiosity. Every few tracks there will be a sort of interlude where the group really gets to stretch their legs and play around.
The group also has the capacity to stitch together a handful of genres without breaking a sweat. A song that comes to mind to prove this point is "Leona." You could fill your cart with the genres at play: bluegrass, folk, country, Americana and blues. The list goes on and all the while it's so beautiful and unassuming. There are also moments where they just get downright jazzy and cool and yet somehow, I get the sense I'm listening to an indie album. They manage to throw my musical compass completely out of whack and I'm eager to thank them for it.
This album was such a pleasurable experience from top to bottom. Visual Snow really is a triumph and deserves being acknowledged by a broad audience. Utterly beautiful execution that gently caresses predictability away like it was never there at all.
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