REVIEW: Joe Manning & Joan Shelley – “Outside, Stay Outside” 7inch

Joe Manning & Joan Shelley
Outside, Stay Outside 7inch
Karate Body

What I know about Joe Manning’s music is minimal, which is even more than I can say about what Joan Shelley has done. I didn’t pay much attention to Kings Daughters & Sons (Manning’s other band), so for me, this seven-inch is my introduction to the both of them. And while the sample here is small (two songs) I believe that I can safely say that I get what their collaboration is about. This is the kind of slow building indie-folk that Songs: Ohia and Bonnie “Prince” Billy are/where particularly good at. And while this stuff isn’t bad, there isn’t any reinvention of the genre on display. I’m not suggesting that this isn’t quality music, because Manning and Shelly clearly know their craft and execute their songs to near perfection. What I’m hinting at is that this genre is a bit overcrowded, and I’m unsure if this duo can stand out on their own.

“Outside, Stay Outside” starts off as a lethargic slow burner, but at about the halfway point it peaks when Manning and Shelley’s voices join forces to harmonize and give this song a slight bit of energy. I’m a sucker for raw male-with-female vocal harmonies, and lucky for me, this song has just enough to hold my A.D.D.-polluted attention. Also, there’s plenty of decorative reverb-heavy guitar noodling and a fiddler that help thicken things up. The B-Side “Called Back To Answer” offers more of the same at about the same tempo, but features a bit more of Manning’s voice on its own. Both of these songs are good, but I prefer the title track because it has a bit more depth and more of my coveted dual vocal parts.

Considering my ignorance to both of these artists, It’s hard for me to judge this collaboration after only two songs. It’ll be much easier to revisit the Manning/Shelley duo when their upcoming full-length is released this fall. Until then, you can listen to “Outside, Stay Outside” below: