When compelling music comes across my desk, I am pleased to hear it. But, I wonder what would make someone take a few minutes out of their day to give a new artist a chance and maybe, just maybe, become a fan.
With that mission in mind, I wanted to share something personal about Mikey Manville with you that might interest you on a personal level so that you might click on over to check out his music. And, by the way, we have an album review right here on The PORTAL if you want more detailed musical analysis!
As I believe that music is a language and one doesn’t choose to be a musician but rather is called to it, I asked Mikey when he had the epiphany that music was his calling. Says Manville, “I was in bands during high school like many people, but when I went off to college to study political science I realized that the degree wasn’t about me getting in to politics but to make me a more conscious writer. I started playing my acoustic guitar more and writing songs more and running an open mic night and then when I got the call asking for me to open for They Might Be Giants and I had about one hundred people holding up their lighters during my original ballad, this was before everyone had cell phones, I said okay, this feels right and shortly after that I formed The Manvils to bring a rock power trio vibe to what I was doing as a solo singer song writer.”
Makes sense to me. Manville has a way about him that makes the music speak to you in a direct and refreshing manner. It is not technical prowess, though Manville is a good player, but it is a thoughtfulness that comes through in his choice of lyrics, melody and rhythmic phrasing that brings him above the crowded miasma of other music clamoring for your attention.
As Manville is a prolific composer, I wondered if there was a song on the new album Nocturne Only that he really wanted people to check out. A song that he felt met his creative goals to a great degree and he told me about his song “Indiana” – which is his dad’s favorite!
“Indiana” is a sweet, somewhat melancholic ballad composed on the road primarily about Manville pining for his wife.
“I actually wrote that one in Indianapolis right before we tied the knot, and it’s me just being very much in love. It really is a straight-up love song. And I also thought the state of Indiana never had a ballad written about it and it’s a very hurting place that needs a little bit of love, so it’s also kind of me giving Indiana a little bit of love too,” he says.
It is perhaps obvious to any sentient being that pain can be used to fuel great art. Through our art, we can take something negative and bring healing to ourselves and to others. This is just what Mikey does with this album as much of the inspiration comes from a family tragedy.
Many years ago, a cousin Manville barely knew was brutally murdered just outside Toronto. It had a devastating impact on her immediate family, the effects of which linger to this day. News of the release of her killer from prison prompted him to express this experience musically, and so began the writing of Nocturne Only.
The lead-off track, “Alice” is one of these. “The first few tracks off this album are dedicated to her and this darkness and tension that still exists. It’s a taboo subject that was never discussed in our family, but I know her family went through hell”. “Alice” is written in a very detached way because I really didn’t know her. So, I wonder how it would be if I knew her better, and then dealing with the lost opportunity, because now I will never get to find out – things like that,” he said, adding that the mood shifts throughout the course of the album as he explores other issues, feelings and thoughts.
Nocturne Only is a record worth your money and it should be, as it is not only expertly communicated to the heart by Mikey but it is also populated with a host of other outstanding talent including: Scott Moore (Mezodigm), Ryan Dahle (Mounties/Limblifter), Megan Bradfield (Limblifter), and legendary Canadian drummer, Pat Steward (Odds/Bryan Adams).
Mikey also enlisted the assistance of veteran producer, John Akred to give the record the polish and swagger it needed.
In closing, let me add to your domain of knowledge by sharing that Manville’s band “The Manvils” is a much different sound than his solo efforts we have been highlighting here. The band project is well worth a listen but has a more punk aesthetic. The band also has an album slated for release around March of this year. Either way, if you need some honest music to jam to or inspire your philosophical juices, Mikey’s music projects are your Muse.