When setting out on the difficult journey towards melodic heaven, finding the right tools is step number one – so with rich vocals and a percussive pulse that runs deeper than expected, artists like Manny Cabo create a masterful tribute to melodicism with a new single like “Paint the Gray” that pop fans everywhere should hear this May.

URL: https://www.mannycabo.com/

There has been a dramatic uptick in interest hitting the American pop underground this past year, and though Cabo is just now getting in on the buzz with a contribution to the soundtrack of 2023 all his own, with a little help from songwriters Bonnie Warren and Clayton Jones of course, he doesn’t sound too removed from the bones of the movement at all.

Frankly, there’s something about his style that feels equally poppy as it does R&B-inspired, the latter being a rather rare find among a lot of the singers who have been trending this year. He’s got the charm of an old-fashioned R&B crooner but the soft-spoken drawl of a true pop singer the likes of which have been missing from the spotlight for more than a generation now, and with this combination of traits, he makes a case for your interest like few other rookies you’ll hear this spring could.

Lyrically speaking, Cabo is pretty on-point and straightforward with the poetic stylization of his words, but I think it’s also quite obvious that he isn’t putting most of his attention on linguistics but instead on performance in this track. His presence is doing so much to facilitate the emotion in these verses that you would almost think he’s been doing this for the past quarter-century and beyond, which requires such refined attention to detail that many of us would never even attempt such an occupation.

The percussion doesn’t have to do much to back up the vocal here but certainly produces a nice, somewhat hip-hop-like beat atop which the instruments can colorize the lyrics. Manny Cabo moves very deliberately in this piece, but his feelings are never clandestinely sewn into the body of the music; they’re out there, front and center, asking for us to accept them and all of the joy they might bring to our lives.

To say there are a lot of good singers in the game right now wouldn’t be doing it justice – the talent pool is spilling over and leaving critics and audiences jonesing for a new era in progressive songcraft like we haven’t seen in decades, and this player is right in the thick of it. Though Manny Cabo could evolve a bit more and develop his harmonies to be a real juggernaut in any setting, what he’s already got going for him in “Paint the Gray” is worth writing home about all on its own.

His sound was made for live performances, but until I have the chance to see him in person for myself, this single gives me a good preview of what I should expect. I’m impressed by his proficiency, and I believe it’s only going to get better from here judging from what I have heard so far.

Garth Thomas