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CD REVIEW: Mann Wolf - Knock First
By Don Sechelski - 04/25/2009 - 10:24 PM EDT

Artist: Mann Wolf
Album: Knock First
Genre: Country/Rock
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Fly, Lullabye, Ev'rything
CD Review:

Mann Wolf’s new release, Knock First, is a delightful collection of well written, well produced songs that sparkle like new diamonds. Wolf is a Cleveland area song writer with past success as part of the duo, Windwords, and as a songwriter for the Nashville country market. On Knock First, Wolf plays most of the instruments, a collection that includes guitars, keyboards, synths, and drums.  He’s joined by Bill Fox on sax on one cut and the “In The Pocket” gospel choir provides background vocals on another number.

It’s Wolf’s songwriting that takes center stage here.  Hole In My Pocket, the first cut is a great example. Wolf’s driving acoustic guitar rings clear providing great support for his soulful vocal. Recorded live, Wolf’s performance is emotional and powerful. Back in the studio, Let It Go gives Wolf a chance to show off his considerable arranging and production skills. Let It Go continues the vibe as Mann backs up strong songwriting with excellent arrangement and production. His guitar work is sterling on every song. Fly is one of my favorite cuts. Wolf’s slow blues is perfect and his soaring guitar solo is the perfect punctuation to an excellently crafted song. This is great rock and roll.

There are some great songs on Knock First and Mann Wolf delivers them with passion and wit. Lullabye is anything but a lullaby as Wolf shuffles through a witty tune that includes my favorite line,

"Reduce my carbon footprint, increase my credit line. Sell my stock on the auction block, try and buy some time."

Too Long Gone has a definite Beatles feel and features some excellent vocals from Wolf coupled with a cleverly constructed song. Ev’rything features a gospel choir supporting Wolf’s passionate vocal on the anthem that closes the album. Mann Wolf is a consummate songwriter and excellent producer. Knock First is a very good album.

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