Jono Manson’s Stars Enough To Guide Me

By Brian Rock

Legendary producer, Jono Manson steps out from behind the soundboards for his latest release, Stars Enough To Guide Me. Drawing on his four decades in the music business, Manson creates a multilayered americana album that draws from Piedmont blues, folk, bluegrass, soul and honky-tonk country. His dusty, Guy Clark meets Aaron Lee Tasjan voice adds a sense of gravitas to the songs which range from playful to somber.

At the playful end of the spectrum, Manson shares a few words of tongue-in-cheek advice on, “Before We Get Stupid.” Celebrating that moment before things go sideways, he captures the excitement and adrenaline that you feel before pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. Singing, “Before we get stupid, let’s have a little chat about what we’re thinking about doing, and what we think about that.” Jaunty piano and banjo perfectly underscore the lively mood as Manson and duet partner, Crystal Bowersox contemplate the risk/reward probabilities of their next adventure. As the music cheerily chugs along, they reach the point of no turning back. And if things don’t work out as planned; well, “ain’t nobody else needs to know about that.” Full of bravado, the song is the perfect anthem for pranksters, schemers, and big-time dreamers.

“The Further Adventures of Goat Boy and the Clown,” tells the story of a musical pair of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid type ramblers. Part “Honky Tonk Women” and part “Pancho and Lefty,” the song has a rollicking Country rhythm punctuated by a soulful horn section. The song exudes joy with every note as the pair race from adventure to adventure just a step ahead of the law. “No New Kind Of Blue,” taps the Piedmont roots of the blues to celebrate the genre with acoustic guitar and harmonica. Summing up every blues song ever written, Manson quips, “From the day you’re born, you’re simply passing through. Just a shout out moan and groan, until one day it’s all gone. There ain’t no new kind of blue.” “Lights Go Out,” is a Hammond organ infused manifesto of perseverance. “As Long As Grass Grows,” is a tender soul/country fusion. Horns and organ add a subtle Gospel flair to the lyrics of hope and optimism. 

Slowing the pace a bit, Manson gets more intimate on his ballads. “On The Downlow,” celebrates the excitement of a secret romance. “Timberline,” is a “Folk-Grass” ode to the beauty of nature. “Make It Through To Spring,” is another “folk-grass” tune; this time addressing the struggle to survive nature’s harsher side. “Late Bloomer,” reveals what we can learn from nature, if we just pay attention. “Alone,” reminds us that no person is an island. “The Last Man Shot In The War,” is a condensed version of All Quiet On The Western Front. Recounting the story of a soldier killed after the peace treaty has been signed, Manson points out the often-pointless tragedy of war. From poignant poet to playful prankster, Jono Manson is a shining star in his own right.  |  fb  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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