There's gold in them there CDs! From a few social media posts, it would seem that it was the wonderful Barbara Manning's birthday earlier this week. Coincidentally, Not Unloved has been going through something of a Barbara Manning obsessional phase in recent weeks following a Twitter post about a new Glands of External Secretion album (the project she's a part of with Seymour Glass) on the always intriguing Siltbreeze. Discovering and rediscovering her music has been such an uplifting experience. The "Barbara Manning Sings With The Original Artists" CD (Normal Records, Germany) she released in 1993 has so many moments of real class on it but "Optimism Is It's Own Reward" is the real jewel for Not Unloved's money:
It's like a heavenly amalgam of some of the music I hold dearest, namely The Pastels, Jonathan Richman and Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Barbara's voice is hushed and intimate throughout but whenever she sings the word 'smiling' (e.g. "Look at the sky. See it smiling") it's so soft and positive sounding that it's almost unbearably beautiful. There's also real soul in the trumpet playing. I guess my New Year's Resolution for 2023 has to be to buy much more of Barbara's music on whatever format it was released.
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