Woke Up This Morning
With a grand, precise, steely-fingered keyboard technique, Manjovi infuses sweeping power and exactness into all he tackles. In his hands, standard blues and simple pop song forms are transformed into expansive anthems - belted out with broad, showtune-style expressiveness. His genial, everyman rock/broadway tenor hits every note dead center. As a singer/songwriter, Manjovi draws deeply from the well of pop's soulful, rhythm & blues greats. This listener hears influences ranging from Jackie Wilson to Bonnie Raitt to Blood, Sweat & Tears to the great seminal white funk rock band Rhinoceros. Oh, yes - and by way of a finale remix of the track 'Celebrity' - some old school disco ala the likes of Sylvester and Two Tons of Fun. Manjovi's often dark & humorously sardonic lyrics mirror the more theatrical interpreters of the R & B pop genre - think Bette Midler and the composers of modern pop musicals such as Rent, Chorus Line and Spring Awakening. In fact, the song lineup on ' Woke Up this Morning' plays almost like a broadway musical show score - one might imagine set changes in between the tracks - as Manjovi offers up songs evoking song & dance 'specialty' numbers ('Give 'em What You Got' and 'Daddy Longlegs'), 11 o'clock wake-up songs ('I Fall Down') and houselights-down, spotlight-on solo ballads ('Things'll Get Better'). As with many broadway show tune soliloquies, Manjovi's lyrics are often sung in the first person. There's that kind of 'man against the world' delivery - a guy conflicted about on the ups and downs of fame, and of the stuggle to find one's place in modern life. This piano man has musical theater in his blood and it shows. In addition to his piano, vocal and songwriting input on the nicely-produced 'Woke Up This Morning', Manjovi also plays some mighty fine organ, Fender Rhodes keys and acoustic guitar. Oh, yeah - and by way of some witty, tongue-in-cheek political commentary by Manjovi in the prelude to 'Things'll Get Better', check out his surprise guest vocalist - President George W. Bush!' - Robert Urban, URBAN PRODUCTIONS, NYC Woke Up This Morning' CD Review Artist: Dan Manjovi Review by; Len Rogers There are many words which would aptly describe Dan Manjovi's latest release, 'Woke Up This Morning.' Thankfully there is one which I think best gives credence to Dan's work, that being, Bravo! To just say this is an impressive CD does no justice to the deep appreciation the listener immediately establishes with this anthem-esque producing artist. The songs are catchy, imbedded, and delivered with Broadway gusto. All made better by the quality of the gutsy, 'feeling-man' vocals of the remarkable Dan Manjovi. I would be severely remiss in not mentioning the superb instrumentals and accompaniment on the entire CD. Of specific note are the dynamic keyboard skills of Manjovi and the saxophone prowess of Lily White. Dan Manjovi's scope of influence make for a diverse tapestry from which to relate. However, of possible musical references one could include; Chicago, Steely Dan, Elton John, The Who, BS&T, and in some tender moments Dan Fogelberg, just to mention a few of the many. What you have to understand if you are not already an aficionado of Dan Manjovi's captivating talents is his ability to make himself comfortable in multi-style mode. So while the listener may detect an influence, the result is unequivocally Manjovi. Combined resilient musical virility with Manjovi's clever; sometime social, sometime political, and sometime just fun lyrics, make for a memorable toe tappin' to sing-a-long experience. Ten tracks make 'Woke Up This Morning' a generous serving. From start with 'Forgotten How To Dream' Dan Manjovi entices with lyrical themes which are people-wide and socially specific at the same time. Carried by musical rivers of emotive visions Manjovi delivers a very listener friendly treat. 'Celebrity' is one of the best takes on what we see as 'today' phenomenon. Putting it in place with a not so gentle musical wink. And get this, you actually wanna wink back. Manjovi does make his music interactive in one way or another. The flow of 'Woke Up This Morning' is also something of note. It seems you are carried and delivered, one song to another with little effort and total comfort. Musically entranced works well actually, or think stage changes. For me it would be hard to pick a favorite song. For this listener starting with 'Give 'Em What You Got' through 'Is Anybody Watching' I get totally absorbed. While I think the entire CD is an awesome work, Manjovi holds my undivided attention through these four tracks. The diversity of sound, the messages, and the experience which maybe gives us a look into the artist himself, all create 'moments' which hold. However, 'Things'll Get Better' is Manjovi at his best. The words are empowered as is Dan's musical authority with this song. And somehow, at the end of the song I believed it would, ...get better. Sadly this is near the end of the CD and my musical journey was short-halted after the 'improved on a good thing', 'Celebrity Electronica Remix'. But the experience isn't over. I can and do hit replay. 'Woke Up This Morning' is a collection of musical art which has holding power. Snippets of song, bits of lyric hang in my memory as I continued my day. Dan Manjovi shares his talent and thoughts with us in such a way as we join together. I know the songs and sounds of 'Woke Up this Morning' are part of my musical experience and me a part of theirs. A nice gift Dan, thanks!