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Jono Manson | The Slight Variations

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The Slight Variations

by Jono Manson

The Slight Variations is an amalgamation of ideas and genres that span Jono Manson’s four-plus decades in the music industry, a time that’s seen the musician lauded equally as a songwriter, performer, sideman, recording engineer and producer.
Genre: Rock: Americana
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Trees
2:48 $0.99
2. Rough and Tumble
3:42 $0.99
3. I'm Ready
3:13 $0.99
4. Wildflower
3:35 $0.99
5. The Sea Is the Same
3:36 $0.99
6. Footprints on the Moon
3:06 $0.99
7. The Slight Variations
4:00 $0.99
8. What Would I Not Do?
2:40 $0.99
9. Brother's Keeper
3:11 $0.99
10. So the Story Goes
2:59 $0.99
11. When the Time Is Right
3:27 $0.99
12. Little Bird Song
3:28 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“I'm at a juncture in my career and my life where the many threads of my experience have come together,” says Jono Manson. “And I hope that makes for a good story.”

It does. And Jono tells that story, brilliantly and unforgettably, on The Slight Variations—a record that’s literally been a lifetime in the making.

At its core, Variations is an amalgamation of ideas and genres that span Manson’s four-plus decades in the music industry, a time that’s seen the musician lauded equally as a songwriter, performer, sideman, recording engineer and producer—as well as a godfather of (or "a central figure in") the New York music scene of the mid-1980s that produced the likes of Joan Osborne, Blues Traveler, The Holmes Brothers and the Spin Doctors.

Over the years, he’s performed pretty much everywhere—from Max's Kansas City to Madison Square Garden—with pretty much everyone, from Bo Diddley to Pete Seeger.

The title of Manson’s new record, The Slight Variations, started as a running joke during the album’s 2015 recording sessions. “A lot of my previous albums just reflected one side or another of my musical expression: the bar band guy, or the singer-songwriter or R&B guy,” says the singer. “This one goes pretty far out on a trip, then comes back. It’s about my life’s journey, including parenthood late in the game, and the rest.”

He adds: “There’s also this underlying subtext in the lyrics, regarding how a seemingly small variation on the ‘norm’ can result in massive changes.” (Good natured, Manson also jokingly refers to Variations as “conceptually similar to a well-known classical opus, like Bach's The Brandenburg Concertos, or Goldberg Variations” )

Within Variations, you’ll experience Manson’s roots in the feral NYC music scene of the late 70s. But the album also touches on the singer’s modern day journey as a father and a man increasingly worried about the health of the planet.

Regarding the former, there’s “Rough and Tumble,” a bar band brawler that alludes to Manson’s earliest experiences in New York clubs, fronting bands like The Worms and the Mighty Sweetones. “There was an explosion of live music venues in the late 70s and early 80s,” he says. “It was a pushback against the disco era. I’m fortunate that I really cut my teeth in the city during that time. I’d play a place like the Dan Lynch Blues Bar from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. You had to have the chops and know how to hold the crowd. It was sink or swim.”

His present day travails are detailed in songs like the piano-led “Footprints On the Moon.” Here, Manson found himself inspired by a book he was reading to his daughter about the solar system. “There was a chapter describing the moon, and about how with no wind up there, those footprints we made are going to stay. And based on where mankind is going...at some point, that might be all that we leave behind.” he says.

His modern worries are further reflected in “I’m Ready,” a soulful take-me-now lament that suggests a possible end for mankind...but where love may save the day. “It’s love for family, our fellow humans, for ourselves,” he says. “It’s a positive song. We can’t give up on our humanity. What sets us apart is our ability to love.”

The common ground here remains Manson’s melodic sense and unmistakable voice. And the record’s not all doom and gloom: the rousing title track is the result of free association and a spontaneous jam session that, with a wink, references itself as the title track. “It’s a funky, bluesy nod to my bar band roots. It’s about nothing and everything. Like Seinfield,” he laughs.

The album features a number of past and present collaborations, including two songs co-written with Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors (“an association from my New York days: we now sometimes tour as a duo of not-so-sensitive singer-songwriters”), as well as songs written with Manson’s wife Caline Welles. Bandwise, the album features contributions from long-time cohorts Mark Clark, Steve Lindsay and keyboard/violin phenom Jason Crosby, as well as members of Brothers Keeper, a Colorado roots rock band that Manson has worked with extensively, and guitarist Kevin Trainor (another ongoing Manson collaborator from the early days in NYC).



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