Singer/Songwriter Jake Manzi Spellbinds on Classic Debut Album ‘Whatever My Heart Allows’

Jake Manzi © Taylor Thompson
Jake Manzi © Taylor Thompson

Mitch's Take

10 Music Quality
10 Production
8 Content Originality
9 Memorability
10 Lyricism
8 Sonic Diversity
10 Arranging
9.3
Singer/songwriter Jake Manzi soars full of passion, harmony, and sweet emotion in his debut album ‘Whatever My Heart Allows,’ an intimate and easygoing introduction reminiscent of soft rock’s greats.
for fans of Brian Dunne, Wilco, Billy Joel, James Taylor
Stream: “Whatever My Heart Allows” – Jake Manzi




I thought that the title track hit on it in a way that was hopeful and looking towards a place of less fear and more love – if you can get out of your own way enough to let it in.

Jake Manzi already caught our ears earlier this year with his song “Whatever My Heart Allows,” and now he’s captured our hearts with a debut album full of feeling and classic heart-on-sleeve charm. The singer/songwriter soars full of passion, harmony, and sweet emotion in Whatever My Heart Allows, an intimate and easygoing introduction whose good vibes and moving lyrics explore life’s depths with grace, empathy, humility, and finesse.

Whatever My Heart Allows - Jake Manzi
Whatever My Heart Allows – Jake Manzi
Push me right up against the wall
Don’t let me say anything at all
‘Cause when I take time to think
I can’t tell how I feel
People I meet, they make me so tired
And I know I’m here but it’s like I’m hardly alive
So when I turn to you please don’t turn away
Though I’m still not sure if I can even stay
But go on and turn the light right out
I’ll give all the love I’m allowed
Whatever my heart allows
– “Whatever My Heart Allows,” Jake Manzi

Released May 7, 2021, Whatever My Heart Allows is a truly beautiful, unassumingly elegant journey into the heart. Described by the artist himself as “chill and laid-back,” Jake Manzi’s first full-length record introduces the Massachusetts musician as a mindful thinker in tune with himself and his surroundings. His LP features contributions from Grammy winner Don Was, Griffin and Taylor Goldsmith of indie rock band Dawes, Grammy-nominated guitarist/singer Madison Cunningham, and Mikaela Davis; working with his longtime bandmate and friend Caleb Rosazza at Studio 68 in Williamsburg, MA, Manzi finds a way for everyone to shine on a record that, in point of fact, doesn’t feel like a debut at all.

Jake Manzi © Olivia Barkett
Jake Manzi © Olivia Barkett

Manzi approaches his music with such warmth, compassion, and composure that Whatever My Heart Allows resonates like a message from a familiar friend.

And perhaps that’s very much the point of any great songwriter: To greet us in song like we’ve known each other all our lives. Manzi certainly knew these songs by heart well before his album came together.

“I had been performing the songs for a few years and had arrangements worked out from playing with my band and demoing the songs,” the artist tells Atwood Magazine. “I knew I wanted my friend Caleb to produce the record. We share a lot of the same tastes and have a joyous musical understanding. Recording for this album started in fall of 2018 and finished in March 2020. It went through many iterations. I chased every idea I had and tried to stay patient enough to see them all through.”

“I wanted to make something that was hi-fi and lush sounding, while also staying true to the songs,” Manzi explains. “I kept following my instincts and throwing ideas around with my friend Caleb. We were both on the same page in that we wanted to end up with a record we were proud of and believed in.”


The album’s title – a reference to the song of the same name – speaks to the depths of emotion Manzi explores throughout his ten tracks. “Fear is sort of the subtext of the record, and I thought that the title track hit on it in a way that was hopeful and looking towards a place of less fear and more love – if you can get out of your own way enough to let it in.”

“All of my heroes strived to make great records and that type of album-driven music is what has always influenced me the most,” Manzi reflects. “I guess I am trying to carry that torch in some very small way. I think that comes across on Whatever My Heart Allows.”

From the buoyant caress of opener “One To,” to the poignant, gentle outpouring in “To Hide Behind” and the rich, sweet wonder of closer “Break,” Jake Manzi surrenders himself in expressive music that stuns while it stirs. Highlights abound – from the title track, which Atwood Magazine previously praised as “a soulful and sweet soft rock confessional” and “big, beautiful breath of fresh heart-on-sleeve vulnerability,” to the gorgeous, lilting string quartet-backed “You Can’t Hear Me” and the utterly majestic “How Long This Time.”

Dwell in any one of Jake Manzi’s songs for very long, and it may soon become a fan favorite. For him, the aforementioned “You Can’t Hear Me” is a particularly special moment, thanks to the string quartet’s presence. “A lot went into getting that right,” he says. “It sounds so sweet to me now!”

Manzi also cites the lyrics in “To Hide Behind” as carrying particular import:

The sun is coming out again
But oh God, I wish it would rain
So I could see how I feel about you
When there’s a little grey
And every time it rains I lay under my bed
And hold my breath ’til I turn blue
But every time you smile I wanna look at you
When the sun shines
You’re on my mind
I’ll try to keep you there when it’s raining
And when my days end
When there’s no light to hide behind
I had my doubts this plane would leave the ground
And once again I let you down
And the sky is still blue up above
But it’s not what I’m thinking of
When the sun shines
You’re on my mind
I’ll try to keep you there when it’s raining
And when my days end
When there’s no light to hide behind
When there’s no light to hide behind
When there’s no light to hide behind


Pouring himself into every song, Manzi commands listeners’ attention with an easy lilt and timeless sound.

“I remember hearing Springsteen say once that ‘people don’t listen to your music to find out about you – they listen to find out about themselves.’ I always thought that encapsulated what a good record ought to help its listeners do.”

Jake Manzi has accomplished all this and more with Whatever My Heart Allows, a warm and welcoming soundtrack to introspection and connection that breathes with a simmering, soft radiance. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Jake Manzi’s Whatever My Heart Allows with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his debut album!

— —

:: stream/purchase Jake Manzi here ::
Stream: ‘Whatever My Heart Allows’ – Jake Manzi



:: Inside Whatever My Heart Allows ::

Whatever My Heart Allows - Jake Manzi

— —

One To

The first line comes from that feeling when you know you want to leave somewhere, but the act of getting up and saying goodbye makes your exit seem too daunting. So you just sit there not really wanting to stay, while simultaneously dreading leaving. I took a 12-hour trip to Blue Hill, Maine to buy a Kurzweil K250 off of Craigslist after reading that it was the keyboard that Bruce Springsteen used on the Tunnel of Love album. The keyboard was pretty messed up, but we were able to use it on the outro of this track.

Before We Let Go

This was a bit of a turning point in the writing of the record. It was the first song that I made a demo for with most of the ideas fully fleshed out. It has always been track #2 to me. I drove to Wilmington, DE to record Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes singing background vocals on this song before their show at The Grand Opera House. I set up my little recording rig in a dressing room and pretended that I knew about engineering.

Whatever My Heart Allows

This was the last song written for the record, after we had already started a bit of recording. I guess this song is a realization that you’re at the mercy of where your heart leads you – not the other way around. Ryan Hommel played the reverby pedal steel that’s all over this.

JAKE MANZI SOARS INTO VIEW ON BEAUTIFUL SINGLE “WHATEVER MY HEART ALLOWS”

:: PREMIERE ::

Bad In You

I wrote this song in an empty apartment on South Pleasant St. in Amherst, MA. The song arose when I realized the faults I was seeing in a friend were my own. That bass part flew out of Jacob Rosazza’s fingers the first time he heard the song at a rehearsal. That’s a pretty grooving bass line.

You Can’t Hear Me

This was the first song written for the record. It was the jumping off point and provided the context that all of the songs would end up revolving around. I pictured an apocalyptic world crumbling around two people that never quite told each other what they meant to one another. My cousin Angelo and I wrote the lyrics together. The strings were arranged by Northampton, MA arranger extraordinaire David Trenholm.

How Long This Time

It’s pretty much a song about getting the runaround. We recorded it about 5 different times. It seemed like if we could get this song to sound good, then all of the other tracks would follow suit with the tone that this one set. It was the first track where it really felt like we had stumbled upon our sound for the record.

Let Her Sway

This was the last song that we recorded. There were a lot of late nights scrambling to get it done in time for mixing. I love all of the space between the piano, the upright bass, and the drum machine. We had a LinnDrum at the studio that we ran through a Tascam 4-track which gave it this warm hissy thing. Reed Sutherland played all the cool upright bass stuff.

No Place Is Home

I guess this is a version of myself that I wanted to be at the time. I recorded it on a Tascam 4-track and it was originally just intended to be a demo. Caleb and I both really liked this version and wanted to put it out.

To Hide Behind

Recording the basic tracks for this song is my fondest recording memory of the whole album. We had just eaten dinner, had some wine, and were feeling quite relaxed. We recorded the drums, acoustic guitar, and vocal live. Don Was played the upright bass on this track – it was Don’s first take. It had the magic.

Break

This song grew out of a fascination with the past. Particularly the baggage that can come with past experiences and hinder growth. I had just seen a friend get married and I guess it was my attempt to understand marriage and the things that one must have to let go of in their past to build a future. That’s Taylor & Griffin Goldsmith singing on this one.

— —

:: stream/purchase Jake Manzi here ::

— — — —

Whatever My Heart Allows - Jake Manzi

Connect to Jake Manzi on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
📸 © Olivia Barkett

:: Stream Jake Manzi ::



More from Mitch Mosk

Premiere: Jordan Lehning Soothes & Haunts in “Static” Off Forthcoming 4th LP

A soothing and haunting hypnosis, Jordan Lehning's enchanting "Static" offers a rich...
Read More