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Paul Manousos
Common Thread
Shock & Fall Recordings
www.paulmanousos.com


One would expect such great songs from a seasoned veteran songwriter, and with a little research it comes to light that Paul Manousos hosts a singer-songwriter night at a club out in California. So it makes sense that the man gets his fair share of good and bad songs running through his ears on occasion, luckily for listeners of Common Thread he seems to be able to distill the goodness from the badness and write some really amazing songs of his own. The musicianship on Common Thread is spotless, like Wilco with a bit more clean and indie leaning, sometimes striking out for rock and occasionally delving into country territory with more success than anything coming out of Nashville lately. The production on the record, courtesy of Steve Fisk, is clean and clear, every instrument finding its place and staking its own ground for the edification of the others. Even if we were to set the songwriting aside, we would be given a great album, but once we consider the lyrics that Manousos creates we are left with something intangibly more. His voice like a blending of such disparate forces, the alto clarity striking in conjunction with the perfection of the music, Manousos sounds almost like a nasally John Hiatt or a contemporary Elvis Costello. His voice is definitely singular and though it sometimes recalls influence, it seems to be buoyed by its own unique personality, an oft-times rarity for the bay area. His lyrics are sharp with wit and allusion, creating splendid stories of life and of the emotions with which his characters are faced. The songs on Common Thread are personal, somewhat revelatory and confessional, as Manousos leads us through his narrative and tells us of the world which his soul inhabits. "Stay Awake" invokes the spirit of great Son Volt, being country enough to fit comfortably, but with guitars that are soaked in singing overdrive as they plow through intense rhythmic riffs and brilliant leads. Manousos' cover of Merle Haggard's classic "Silver Wings" is down-tempo and soft, sparse in instrumentation, but with a wonderful guitar solo inhabiting the bridge. The remainder of the record floats in the territory of great rock music, poppy and familiar with touches of country, doing its best to showcase the excellent lyrics that Manousos pushes from his mouth and heart. There is an intense soul inhabiting the songs of Common Thread, and they are waiting for you to discover them.

-David DeVoe


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