Thursday, March 24, 2011


Heartbroken. Homesick. Lost. Lovesick.  When Dante started his journey, he was standing in the shards of his shattered life, half the sands of his hourglass scattered in the wind, wondering how to put the pieces back together, how to get home. Mount Paradise (which at one point seemed doable) towered menacingly above him, posing its own sinister obstacles. Then he heard a familiar voice full of experience and empathy saying "Come with me. I've been through hell and back, and I can show you the way." To scale the peak, Dante is guided by the phantom spirit Virgil to witness unspeakable horrors in the circles of hell, to experience the purifying fires of purgatory, and to attain, as it were, new life.

When you listen to LOVE JUSTICE, Brett Manning's debut album, you hear that voice calling to you, the voice that belongs to your friend who has come to show you the way home. Truly. Brett's lyrics are an inventive roadmap through broken relationships, lost hopes, and unrequited loyalty from a guy who's found his way again and found himself stronger than before. And his voice, pure and true in every note, sends those lyrics straight to your heart. With twenty years of experience in music (most recently with his wildly successful vocal training company Singing Success and his product Mastering Mix), Brett guides his fellow musicians on LOVE JUSTICE with consummate artistry and skill. Personal vocal coach to Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, and Paramore's Hayley Williams, Brett Manning is a brilliant artist in his own right who at long last is taking centerstage.

And at centerstage Brett is right at home. His authentic talent shines in acoustic settings without the embellishment of production magic. Brett is one of those rare musicians who can make each member of a crowd of thousands feel like he's singing to that one alone. Whether he's wailing a power ballad or crooning a love song, Brett's honest, hard won skill and natural-born talent shine.

I have spent countless days at the Sound Stage with Brett between the hours of 9:00 P.M. and 3:00 A.M. during the recording of LOVE JUSTICE and dozens of hours outside the studio, getting a grasp on the many aspects of Brett's life and the singular, tragic story from which LOVE JUSTICE was born. LOVE JUSTICE traces for listeners a psychological journey, acquainting each hearer with the various, torturous stages of loss. Several tracks on the album are among my favorites. Here is a short synopsis:

LISTEN covers the initial response to unjust accusation (which is disbelief and the subsequent desire to self-defense). Vindication seems entirely to hinge upon the accuser’s willingness to hear Brett out.

WHAT I NEED is the characteristic period of confusion in which Brett feels out of touch with ordinary desires and processes of life. Formerly dependent behavior is exchanged for a time-orientation hyper-focused solely upon the present. Future concern escalates into an unbearable anxiety resulting in sleepless nights.

ANGER considers the chronic stress of unresolved tension in which Brett graduates to the raw emotion of anger. Anger and resentment, common, kindred emotions of the wronged and bereaved, express themselves as a protest against a cruel and unfair fate.

ALREADY MINE relents the former, dominating emotion of anger, only to express deep devotion to the offending party. Though at this point in the conflict it would seem easier to jettison the relationship altogether, Brett rallies himself to his original commitment to fidelity.

CONFLICTED is the relationship at a standstill: emotional limbo. Neither of the parties are content to move the "death" of the relationship forward, content to indefinitely speculate whether or not reconciliation is possible.

BEAUTIFUL US underscores the incompatibility of the relationship with the image both had for each other at the very beginning. Shame, guilt, and regret, often found to be intertwined and overlapping realities, are abated by the possibility of recovery.

ILLUSION. Brett attempts to master stress by gathering a great deal of knowledge and information about different aspects of his loss. Applying the most intricate, forensic processes, he analyzes his misfortune.

Many more musical experiences punctuate the album like Brett’s heartfelt cover of Collective Soul’s “Heaven Let Your Light Shine Down, syncopated with the percussion of Memphis-based drummer Taylor Carroll, interlaced with the stringed expertise of Ten-Finger Orchestra guitarist Paul Allen, and graced with the vocals of the legendary Wendy Moten.

In the end LOVE JUSTICE is a field guide for the heartbroken, for the bereaved, for the accused, for the cheated upon, for the used. Brett leaves us with a sober lesson: that it takes almost superhuman effort to persuade another human against his will and that falling in love with Justice is a far better love affair. Experienced. Honest. Authentic. Empathetic. Brett's voice will lead you through an artistic, soul-searching that you will want to revisit again and again.

You can contact Brett Manning through Here is a clip of ILLUSION from LOVE JUSTICE.

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