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Album review: Simmon Manalo – “Spirit”


This here is a break from the usual fare of reviewing the all-time greats, well, mainly because the guy who created the album asked his fans to review it. His wish is our command, and so we have here an album called “Spirit” by Simmon Manalo, that I will type a review for as I go on with listening to the album.

I find it kind of odd since this one has 14 tracks on it, which could be potentially awesome for the fans who are eager to listen to whatever Simmon puts out, but since there’s this comic that truthfully describes every album ever (except the good ones), you could apply that comic to this album and get away with it, since you can’t really put it head to head with such greats as, for example, “Beatles for Sale”, which is also conveniently 14 tracks long.

Still, to be completely honest, “Spirit” takes on an extremely wide variety of genres, but ultimately winds up just as a jack of all trades, but master of none. I’m on my 5th track right now, that’s called “Falling in Love All Over Again” (seriously, Clannad the anime!) … and to be honest, only the first track off the album (which is “Free Yourself”) has managed to strike any chord – regardless of whether it’s G#7sus4, which is the most pleasant chord to my ears, or some dissonant chord like the Tristan one.

It may sound outlandish to most readers, but “Windshield” was better when it was first uploaded to the site Simmon, Ian Felpel from The Death of CDs and me happen to share. That could be explained by the presence of one of the most popular singer-songwriters there that goes by the name of Rayski – deservedly popular, by the way – but still, in comparison to the samey-sounding section starting after “Christmas Star”, it’s much more better. You could call it a highlight, and thus we have two of them: “Free Yourself” and “Windshield”.

While we’re at the subject, I guess you could say that Manalo was severely overhyped by the crowd on the site we’re all on – as long as you can get on top of the charts, “constructive criticism” can go eat its heart out, and “kiss my arse and I’ll kiss yours” is the rule. Well, God knows I’m trying to criticize everyone constructively and not sound like I’m the Ukrainian version of JD Considine, but still I manage to sound like him by the sheer virtue of all the other reviews saying that “ur choon is da best!!!1! review mai pls?” (language may not necessarily be like the one used here.) And that might have gotten into Simmon’s head – even though he’s experienced being downrated by everyone and their mother, he is flattered by all the positive reviews all of a sudden and let them get under his skin.

(Important note: I’m not attacking anyone here. Simmon is a nice guy that I have communicated with in person, and he makes good music… and there are some quality music makers among those who are reviewing him all too positively, without a single pinch of salt… and it bugs me out.)

OK, so we’re at track 12, and we have two more highlights in our arsenal: “Take a Deep Breath” and “Memories” – the latter seems to be the most popular song of his on AP, and I guess it was deservedly so… though, I’m an insane fan of the characteristic Rhodes sound, so you may not agree with me.

The other problem with this album is that at times, all the instruments that Manalo puts into the track tend to sound dissonantly with each other. This comes into play the most on “The Day You Went Away”, even though it boasts some tasty Hammond organ licks… and at times on the wretched section of tracks 3 to 5.

OK, so we’re on the final track, and we’ve got one more highlight in our arsenal called “My Heart Will Keep On Loving You” (hey, Celine Dion! eat your heart out!) and it’s pretty good though doesn’t live up to the level of “Free Yourself”, by a long margin. You could also argue that the last track “Voices Within” is good enough to be a highlight – there are some good vocalises and the way it builds up in every half is pretty exciting.

So, now we’ve come to an abrupt end to our album called “Spirit” by Simmon Manalo. What can I say? I can’t say that I loved this album to death, no wai. I can’t also say that this album is the worst of all time – that would be too ridiculous and besides we already have Justin Bieber and BrokenCYDE with their abominable music. There are good moments on the album, and they outweigh the bad moments, but still it fits the aforementioned comic to a tee and couldn’t really be on par with the other good independent albums this year – such as Derek Palmer’s “In Motion”, for example. In spite of that, “Spirit” is a decent debut album, that has great potential, but too much variety (inverse of The Bermuda Triangle’s “Wonderland” that has too little variety but still sounds as good) and that has to be distilled into something lesser but better in order to become truly, madly popular.

Highlights: “Free Yourself”, “Windshield”, “Take a Deep Breath”, “Memories”, “My Heart Will Keep on Loving You”, “Voices Within” (maybe “Christmas Star”)

Lowlights: “Our Love Song”, “Walking on a Clear Day”, “Falling in Love All Over Again”, “The Day You Went Away”


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