S. T. Manville is a Midlands songwriter whose relationship with his influences has seen him release an album dedicated to his formative peers (Somebody Else’s Songs), as well as inform the skilled songcraft on display on recent offerings Little Victories and Best I Can Do.
Upcoming EP Live From Nowhere is a bare-bones, one-take affair that allowed Manville the opportunity to let the songs speak for themselves without the temptation of tinkering. Lead single, Vitamins, is the arrestingly-introspective sound of soul-searching at a lonely juncture, its stripped-back performance focussing the attention on Manville’s words of honesty and the insistent melody that brings them to the fore.
He spoke to Secret Meeting about some of his formative and favourite cultural touch-points…
Three albums I love
Paul Simon – Graceland
This album was number 1 the day I was born and my parents owned it. I’ve quite literally listened to it since birth and I still listen to it all the time. It’s an album that has accompanied me throughout my entire life, from childhood car journeys, through adolescent fumbling, into heady 20s and touring, all the way to parenthood. It’s soundtracked my most formative experiences, happy memories and dark periods. I can’t imagine life without it.
Counting Crows – August and Everything After
I somehow came to Counting Crows very late, as in, late-20s late. I actually don’t know how or why it happened. I had loved a handful of the better known singles since being a teen (including Colorblind, that I covered last year with Katie Malco) but had pretty much forgotten about them as a band for a decade. It was only a few years age I listened to August and Everything After in it’s entirety for the first time. I love the way Adam Duritz writes in vignettes and his eye for idiosyncratic detail. The other thing that I think has kept me coming back time and time again is the spontaneity of his vocal, he never sings the same line the same way, always exploring different embellishments of the melody. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a week I don’t listen to this album start to finish, and even if I don’t listen to it I end up boring one of my mates about how great it is.
Friendship – Dreamin’
A friend introduced me to this record at the start of the year and it’s been my find of 2020. Dreamin’ is an amazingly textured record, both musically and lyrically. Everything feels as if it’s played slightly quieter than it should be, the arrangements are brilliantly sparse and restrained. Dan Wriggins’ song writing is fantastic, he manages to find the poetry in observational conversation and you’re left really feeling as if you know him and his life while simultaneously relating personally to the emotions and stories. It’s a real diamond and I urge people to check it out if they haven’t already; it’s helped me immensely throughout this year.
A film that I love
The Princess Bride
This is a similar story to Graceland. The Princess Bride was released the same year I was born and I can’t remember a time that I didn’t know it word for word. Between me and my siblings this has been a lifelong source of quotes and references. Like a childhood safety blanket it’s comforted me my whole life and is now something I share and enjoy with my own kids. Although the majority of the acting is dubious, the sets are pretty poor and the story is obvious, what really shines is the dialogue. The script is just so quotable. There is a sort of lyrical quality that runs through the whole film that makes it so watchable. It may not be the most important of Rob Reiner’s films (he did pretty much invent and/or perfect every film genre through the 80’s with Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally, Misery…) but I’d argue that it is the most fun.
One book I love
Mike Duncan – Revolutions (Podcast)
So I’m going to cheat here. I don’t really read books. Other than kid’s books (that I read EVERYDAY) I haven’t really read since school. I just prefer to imbibe information and stories through non-book formats. I am a huge fan of narrative history, particularly political history. Revolutions is by Mike Duncan who started his podcast career with The History of Rome which is another fantastic series. He is brilliant at tying long winded political history to a strong narrative and making it accessible and engaging without sensationalising it. Revolutions is a 10 series podcast, each series exploring a different revolution, starting with the English civil war and ending with the Russian revolution. For me the most interesting parts tend to be the events leading up to each revolution, really trying to understand all the different factors that came together to make the conditions just right for such world changing events to take place. He is a truly engaging writer and presenter, anyone with an interest in why the world looks like it does today should check it out.
One song that’s important
The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright
Pretty Fly For A White Guy was the first punk single I ever bought. It was kinda by accident. I was 10 and I heard it on the radio and liked it so I bought it on CD single from Woolworths. I didn’t know they were a punk band, or what punk even was. When I listened to the record at home I obviously liked it (cus that’s why I bought it) but then the b-side came on. It was a live version of All I Want and it blew my mind. I had been playing guitar for about a year already, mainly classic rock and indie stuff, but as soon as I heard All I Want everything changed. Me and my best friend went out and bought the whole Offspring back catalogue and devoured it, then we got Green Day, NOFX, Blink, Metallica…. But it all started with The Offspring and that’s why they will always be special to me, especially the album Americana. I actually never really liked this song musically but lyrically I think it’s one of the most moving. Listening to it now as an adult I find a lot of nostalgia, but also a deeper appreciation for the lyrics. I covered this song on an album I released last year in an attempt to bring its genuinely sincere nature to the fore-front. Who knew Dexter Holland could be so profound.
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