CD review: Erin Manning, 'Back and Forth'

By Lindsay Hayes

The curse of the sophomore release may be every artist’s fear, but for Erin Manning the worry is over. After all, she has spent the last two and a half years honing her songwriting talents as well as one-upping each of her musical pursuits along the way. After releasing her first EP in November 2009, The Lowest One, (Next To Me), Manning embarked on a five-week acoustic tour of the Midwest with Nashville songwriter Kara Reynolds. Since then, she’s hosted multiple 8 off 8ths at Mercy Lounge, as well as shared the stage with artists like Shilpa Ray, Girl in a Coma, Zoe Boekbinder and Bitch.

Back and Forth, Manning’s sophomore release, seems to be a reflection of her experiences and growth since The Lowest One, (Next To Me). Highly anticipated for many reasons (her "lungs of steel" being one of those), this is Manning’s most personal work to date.

The EP reveals a notably matured sound from Manning. Her ear for production has experienced a creative shift and the instrumentation alone proves her most interesting yet. The opener “Let It Go” showcases a newly-cultivated, thoughtful songwriting from phrasing to melody. “Solar Eclipse,” the first single from the record exemplifies the drama we all know and love from Manning. She’s been playing it live for a while, so there were no surprises on the recording
– yet the build of the pre-chorus gets me every time.

Hindsight echoes in “The Difference,” which gives listeners a range of Manning’s vocal abilities. The title track is a tango-pop fusion that Manning may be the first to master (another crowd favorite at any of her live shows). The strings in “The Crashing Down” are beautiful, as are Manning’s toned-down vocals. The EP finishes out with “The Cruelest Thing,” a passionate mid-tempo ballad ("It’s gotta be the cruelest thing/when someone takes away what they once so freely gave.") and a crashing, poetic hidden track about…well, you’ll just have to listen and find out.

The Basement was overflowing for the Back and Forth release show on April 23. Along with performances from Peter Barbee and Korean is Asian, Manning played through the EP as well as invited a string of guests (Heidi Feek, La’Akea Pressley, Larissa Maestro) to play a series of covers with the band. All in all, Manning produced a successful album and successful show.

You can hear Erin’s music at

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