Bird Mancini

Bird Mancini
Funny Day

Second Story Records

By Bill Copeland
August 2007

A singer-songwriter duo with a classic rock and blues influence, Bird Mancini incorporates many instruments and stylistic flavorings. Offering a salad bar of sound to the ear with every individual savory piece, Ruby Bird and Billy Carl Mancini have a breezy fresh approach on their new CD, Funny Day.

Opening with "Holly," Manciniís reflection on a lonely girl from his school days, the duo make the most of their harmonies and breezy lead vocal interplay. Each gives strength to the song, instead of one singer merely backing the other. Its breezy vocal work makes it a pleasant listen. Meanwhile, a bristling lead guitar line gives it an edge, and this comes alive with such contrast.

"A Funny Day To Be Alive" offers more of the duosí trade offs. Yet, they and their backing musicians show their new maturity here. This reflection on the meaning of life, inspired by their experience with a terminally ill man in hospice care, floats by with confidence and compassion, and this can be heard in their warm vocal inflections.

"Better Man" has a chorus that makes me think this track will soon find its way to radio. Catchy without contrivance, it latches onto to the ear and refuses to let go. The song is also infused with confident twists and turns.

"The Other Side" gets the full attention of Birdís lead vocal for half the song. Her voice pulls this mellow tune along a casual path, until she gets to stretch out a little bit in the chorus. She really came into her own as a vocalist on the first Bird Mancini album. Now sheís a force to be reckoned with.

Bird gets even more aggressive on the up-tempo "Through Your Eyes," where she comes tastefully just short of belting - showing control of her tone.

Bird Mancini have a sound that is easy to follow. But they are by no mean simplistic. There are lots of subtle things going on underneath the surface. I like what Bird does here with her synthesized vibes, creating melodic notes that dart in and out.

"Rest Of My Life" offers more of the vocal interplay and accordion work that preceded it. Manciniís guitar eventually takes the reins, and makes the sound ride out with distinction.

Reminding me of John Lennon and The Beatles, "So Cool" is clearly a sarcastic attack on people who live the music lifestyle for the wrong reasons. Billís guitar solo here reminds me of "Sheís So Heavy" from Abbey Road. There is a lot of fun meanness in this piece, with Birdís menacing tone taking someone down a verbal dark alley.

A nice break after "So Cool," "No Saints Can Say" features their combined vocal prowess, cooing in harmony for several seconds.

"Somedays" gets a ska beat from percussionist Eric Michael Kelly on congas, while "Heart Of The City" receives a fine electric guitar atmospheric from Mancini. Meanwhile, Rubyís accordion fills in the spaces in this aggressive piece, and this texture makes it an even more palpable rocker.

Ruby further displays her ability with accordion texture on "Long Road Home," a shuffling country two-step with drummer Jim Clements giving it something people could groove to at their local honky-tonks. "Not This Time" showcases more of Manciniís tasty guitar licks in this classic rock inspired ballad with many twists and turns in the songs direction.

Ruby even wrote washy accordion melodies to her grandmotherís poem "Red Geraniums," a piece that challenged her ability to set herself to someone elseís words, and she met the challenge admirably. Her voice sounds dreamy, other-worldly, and contemplative, bringing a new texture of emotion to the words.

This third studio album by the couple under their Bird Mancini moniker - and their fourth if you count their disc as The Sky Blues - plays out in part like a Ruby Bird lecture-demonstration of the accordion. Without pretension, Ms Bird can use her accordion to great effect in many kinds of song structures. Although "Not This Time" is primarily a slow guitar burn ballad, Ruby holds her own on the squeeze box before she eventually shifts gears and turns the piece into an accordion ballad.

I could go on and on. There are many nice details in this new Bird Mancini release. Audiophiles, taste mongers, upscale night clubs, and the duoís own loyal following will likely find themselves returning for repeated listening. Enjoy!

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