A talented mixed genre artist and musician, Manu Francois first rose to prominence four years ago when he revealed his debut album, ‘Check It’, a textured nine-track release that delivered a unique perspective and plenty of heavy rap vibes. Born in St. Lucia, but now calling New Zealand home, Manu has grown to become a unique and wonderfully transformative artist, shifting away from his rap origins to deliver a series of bold stylistic changes in each of his acclaimed releases.
An artist who gives every part of himself to his art, Manu’s releases have all shone with heart, soul, and authenticity, delivering emotive passages and sweeping musical refrains that break through the mainstream and capture something real. For his latest release, the aptly titled ‘Humanity’ EP, Manu has taken inspiration from his own life, looking inwards and delivering an emotionally charged series of introspective songs that were written entirely on a three-string cigar box guitar that he has affectionately named, ‘Cigar, the Cigar Box Guitar’.
A release that wastes little time in delivering its heartfelt, acoustic sound, ‘Humanity’ traverses the daily pressure, pain, and hardships of everyday life, showcasing relatable moments and humble touches that illustrate the importance of delivering something that is a true representation of Manu’s heart and soul.
Opening with ‘No Other Home’, the effects of Manu’s sound is instantly recognisable, and as the acoustic guitar chords and textured flourishes rise into focus, you can feel a connection forming that goes beyond any physical boundary. A celebration of life, the opening track is a triumphant piece, one that is wonderfully authentic and undeniably touching. Letting his rustic guitar wander, Manu creates a simple, but wonderfully effective opening single that offers so much, while also promising much more to come.
As the title track emerges, Manu changes tone, offering a far darker, atmospheric experience that is born out of pain and pressure. In his own words, Manu explained that ‘Humanity’ is “a product of the feelings of distance and unnecessary hurt that can come with distance and misunderstandings”, and you can hear it in his tone and lyrics, pushing the emotive nature of the track to its limits. With ambient tones, Manu creates an evocative and textured sound that is perfectly balanced by his vocals and a nuanced blues sound, and lyrics like “how can I heal your pain?” and “if our paths were to cross, would I have the courage to let my hurt go” speak volumes.
In the third track, ‘Sing On’, Manu changes tones yet again, creating a sound that is a perfect expression of nature’s power and serenity. With a fittingly organic sound that builds into a vibrant celebratory piece, ‘Sing On’ is a fine balance of emotive vocals with more optimistic lyrics. Delivering a sweetly sung and perfectly paced song that grows in lightness, the third song creates a gorgeous and thoughtful soundscape. As the closing two tracks of the EP arrive, Manu unleashes a calling rally of rustic, expressive sounds that bring his journey to a triumphant end, delivering hard-learnt life lessons and calming sincere tones that anyone would be lucky to hear.
With his simple cigar box guitar, ‘Roads’ sees Manu delivering one of his most impressive vocal performances to date, ranging from hopeful optimism to more toned, wistful sighs as the song progress. Backed by simple, but effective acoustics and wandering self-contained percussion, he embarks on a reflective odyssey that draws instant, poetic comparisons to artists like Benjamin Clementine. For the closing song, Manu returns to his transformative best, blending light bird calls and sounds of nature with bright, flickering guitar chords and a slow, shifting tempo that perfectly mirrors the steady flow of life. A track that slows the world and gives us space to breathe, it shines with lyrics like “take time for the quiet, the quiet of your mind”, reminding us all to make time, even when the world is pushing us forward.
Speaking openly about the new release, Manu expressed that ‘Humanity’ is “what I truly want to gift to the listening world. Not chasing fame or fortune but rather expressing myself in the way that feels most natural to me,” and in all earnest, there is no more perfect summation for the EP than that. A disarming journey that unfolds as each song emerges, it’s a tender work of art that gives us space to breathe in a world that rarely cherishes peace.
Humble, understated, and filled with heart, the EP is wonderfully well written, and utterly disarming, layering stories and real-world experiences with timeless folk sounds that deliver a point of view that is sorely missing from modern music.
Along with the release of the EP, Manu has also revealed a series of videos that perfectly complements the songs. You can view them all on Manu’s YouTube channel below.
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