It’s no secret that I am a Fanilow so of course i am going to pay attention to ‘This Is My Town,” Barry Manilow’s latest release. This is another one of his ‘concept albums,’ with it being a tribute to New York, where he is from. Once a New Yorker, always will be one, I think – you will never get that sensibility out of your system, and being that I fall into this category, the album has special meaning for me.
I wish I loved the album, but at this point, only like it. I wish the songs touched me more. There is a lot of nostalgia here, but few that hit my heart – Manilow spends a lot of time making sure he hits all the right marks that the effect for me is more academic. There’s a lovely ‘Lonely Town’ here, but lately a couple of people have covered that song better (Tony Yazbeck’s, for example) And the original songs still fail to male an instant great impression. There’s no ‘Mandy’ here. The New York medley at the end of the disc is a lot of fun, but sounds like something from a cabaret show at 54 Below – not very Manilow-like in my book. And one of the songs, Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown,’ really isn’t about New York
I always thought Manilow is a better songwriter than singer, and I wish he would go back to the romantic songwriter mode that made him famous. Sure, he and I love the Great American Songbook, so he should be emulating it more than singing it. He isn’t called the modern Irving Berlin for anything. This is his first albums since ‘coming out’ and wouldn’t it have been more fun if he had taken advantage of that by writing song from his experience? I am just musing, of course. Wishful thinking, perhaps? ‘This Is My Town’ is the kind of disc that is fine while you listen it, but it’s instantly forgettable. I want my Manilow back, the one who allegedly wrote about Provincetown in ‘Weekend in New England’ or went inside his heart for ‘All The Time.’ I just hope that Manilow is not forever gone.