Even though the Sanctum has a strict genre umbrella, there are times when you experience specific songs, so touching that you effortlessly ignore your agenda. The latest EP by Manu Francois is the case today. The last time the Sanctum covered Folk material was Kody Reeder’s beautiful EP ‘Anxiety’ and for the exact same reasons we’ll get into ‘Humanity’ right away.
‘I can’t wait for what’s in store, I just can’t wait anymore’ sounds like the perfect vocalization of a sunrise, the dawn of a new day and an album opening :P. Francois is harmonizing over a minimal instrumental of laid-back chords, giving space to the sentiment of the lyrics to shine. Some cheerful exclamations spread throughout the track make the experience liberating, tangible and human, as the guy next door, Manu, celebrates the power of home and human connection: ‘Cause I don’t want no other home but here, I don’t want no other place but with you near me’. Bright in its melancholy like the bittersweet ending of a film, a journey coming to an end for another to begin.
Darkness comes as a beautiful surprise with the homonymous ‘Humanity’ which I immediately recognize as my cup of tea. Yes, it’s the drama for me. ‘Humanity’ is all about the dark side of the human nature unfolding in today’s world. The lyrics are so overwhelmingly honest that no review can ever reflect the weight of the track. The impact of statements like ‘Why do we drag each other down this way?’ will make you feel guilty of disrespect no matter how well you behave, no matter how innocent you are. The guilt is carried in the human blood like the original sin but still, Francois is searching for our warm skin under the cold armor, our beating heart behind the castle walls. The vocal performance is deeply painful, elevating the track to the emotional level it deserves. It feels as if the load of our impurity is literally packed in each and every single inhale and exhale of Francois. And it’s captivating to say the least.
‘Sing On’ is the medicine that heals all wounds. A prayer for better, loving days to come: ‘Sing on your love, bring on the sun’. A chord melody is beautifully looping into its simplicity, speaking of the little things in life, the ones we often forget to appreciate: ‘the touch of your hand, the shape of your smile’. ‘Sing On’ is a love song but not necessarily about or for lovers! At this point I need to state how Manu’s delicate, heartfelt voice brings back the essence of an overused word that lost its meaning in music about a million years ago. Love. Everyone sings about love, only a few can make you feel its glory.
Now, initially, the subtly reggae-ish mood of ‘Roads’ truly challenged me personally for I find it really hard to connect with this vibe. But as the track progress, not only it fits smoothly into the whole experience but it has an interchangeable character between the genre’s signature joy and a darker place, which pretty much did the work for me. Now, ‘Roads’ is a personal 'coming of age' anthem about transitioning from youth’s carefreeness to maturity’s awareness: ‘Before I grew to know the feeling of roads, subdivisions and trepidation’. We’ve all been there. It’s the most demanding part of our journey and ‘Roads’ expresses that perfectly through its restless yet inspiring duality.
Birds are chirping as Humanity comes to its end, singing that ‘Life Is Here’. The closing track is dedicated to nature. It’s a tribute to our human senses, the night and day, the sun and the snow. An ode to the whole creation and a reminder to respect it, embrace it and grow through our love towards it. It’s beautiful how Manu’s tone can pull off the sorrow of ‘Humanity’ and at the same time the optimism of ‘Life is Here’ almost without changing.
In a nutshell, 'Humanity' says it all in five comprehensive tracks. Francois sounds mature, fully-awakened and eager to spread the word through this wonderfully honest piece of art. Here you'll find true emotion, whole-hearted realness and the comfort that music is meant to offer to us, worried souls. Moreover, this comfort is reinforced by the instrumental minimalism which also offers a great amount of space for Manu's affective voice to be exhibited as the most soulful instrument in this EP. This is the kind of music the world needs and I hope Humanity reaches the ears that need to be blessed by its preaching.
Enjoy Manu Francois here: