Man And Things is the musical project of a man named Robert Ranaldi, a Canadian expat now living and creating on Long Island, New York. Man And Things has released many acclaimed albums, and the newest is called Floored.
Ranaldi sees himself primarily as a songwriter who happens to play guitar, and his original songs spring from an eclectic blend of pop rock seasoned with blues, jazz and folk influences. He writes and records all parts himself using both guitars and MIDI instruments & drums. The songs on this album were composed between 2016 and 2023 and tracked in Ranaldi’s home studio using Logic Pro X. “Soul Mole” starts with a big kick drum beat right up front, steadily hitting until you fear this may be the entire song!
But Ranaldi soon reveals himself on guitar and bass, playing in a clean, jazz-influenced style. Echo-drenched keys and more percussion follow along. The track is built on a fairly simple riff upon which Ranaldi weaves subtle variations. I love how some instruments are bathed in reverb, while a guitar solo of sorts sounds like it was recorded with a mic right up against an amp with little to no effects. “Blue Cherries” continues the smooth jazz feel but with more of a live, small-combo feel. I love Ranaldi’s unusual voicings on his guitar leads, as the two main guitars here have a lively dialogue.
With “First Train Leaving” the jazz club gets a little smokie with cool, off-kilter beats, standup bass, acoustic piano and dueling lead guitar melodies. The title track “Floored” feels to me both like classic jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and the laid-back, jamming Beatles. The keyboard part is done with that “angelic voice” kind of patch, like an electronic backup singer. A beautiful track with lots of pleasing, unexpected changes.
“Hazy” is one of the cooler tracks in that it’s a boogie that starts dark and becomes almost overloaded with organ-like keys, Beefheartian guitars and sax samples, then switches to a Beach Blanket Bingo vibe so quickly that I thought it was a new song! “Pushing Clouds” features acoustic guitars and live-sounding percussion, and is an excellent showcase for Ranaldi’s knack for creating interesting harmonic moments between his guitars. A very distant cousin might be Jimmy Page’s “Black Mountain Side” though the track here is much more lyrical. “The Bounce” does indeed have a bouncy beat with a main riff that recalls Paul Simon’s “Feelin’ Groovy” though Ranadi’s version also has cool synth interludes.
Though new to me, it’s clear now why Ranaldi has been able to keep so many projects afloat with his amazing technique and wealth of ideas. Recommended!
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