Album Reviews

words taking the path of poetry”

The Alternate Root Magazine



Time to Run song Review:

Time to Run is an obsessive alt country rocker with a catchy timeless quality...full of attitude... ‘unapologetic’ lyrics and great guitar work.  

If you dig artists like Wilco, Son Volt & Jeff Tweedy, then you don’t wanna miss this alt country treat! Pure, authentic and straight to the heart country rock n’ roll!  

Thanks Last Day Deaf for the song review. 


Just Another Heartbreak 

 White Owl Red, gets on the premiere train with his new single. If you're building your music library, you should check out Just Another Heartbreak. Without a doubt, it is a good option to lift the routine. We think that the right time to listen and enjoy this material is at night, when the bustle of the big city begins to calm down. Just Another Heartbreak, is ready to be part of your days, discover how good it sounds, here. It is an exclusive presentation of Zone Nights for Argentina. Enjoy!

White Owl Red, se prende en el tren de los estrenos con su nuevo single. Si estás confeccionando tu biblioteca musical, debés darle un vistazo a Just Another Heartbreak. Sin dudas, es una buena opción para levantar la rutina. Pensamos, que el momento justo para escuchar y disfrutar de éste material, es por la noche, cuando el bullicio de la gran ciudad, empieza a calmarse. Just Another Heartbreak, está listo para formar parte de tus días, descubrí lo bien que suena, acá. Es una presentación exclusiva de Zone Nights para Argentina. Enjoy!  


“Sometimes there is simply no need to explain your feelings when you listen to such compositions, and in this case you just need to catch the rhythm and the radiance of all colors of the rainbow, filling your devastated vessel with the warmth of the melody in the Folk Rock genre and the vocalist -wite ovl red- voice. Sometimes it is simply impossible to explain, you just need to feel with your heart.” *

“Μερικές φορές απλά δεν υπάρχει ανάγκη να εξηγήσετε τα συναισθήματά σας όταν ακούτε τέτοιες συνθέσεις και σε αυτή την περίπτωση απλά πρέπει να πιάσετε το ρυθμό και την ακτινοβολία όλων των χρωμάτων του ουράνιου τόξου, γεμίζοντας το καταστροφικό σκάφος σας με τη ζεστασιά της μελωδίας στο Το λαϊκό rock genre και ο τραγουδιστής -wite ovl red -voice. Μερικές φορές είναι απλά αδύνατο να εξηγήσετε, απλά πρέπει να νιώσετε με την καρδιά σας.” *

“Иногда просто нет необходимости объяснять свои чувства, когда слушаешь подобные композиции, а в данном случае нужно просто уловить ритм и сияние всех цветов радуги, наполняя свой опустошённый сосуд теплотой мелодии в жанре Folk rock и голосом вокалиста -White Owl Red-. Иногда просто невозможно объяснить, нужно просто чувствовать сердцем.” 



Time to Run is an obsessive alt country rocker with a catchy timeless quality...full of attitude... ‘unapologetic’ lyrics and great guitar work. 

If you dig artists like Wilco, Son Volt & Jeff Tweedy, then you don’t wanna miss this alt country treat! Pure, authentic and straight to the heart country rock n’ roll! 

Thanks Last Day Deaf for the song review.






Afterglow is the fourth White Owl Red album, Release date: February 26, 2020

Current Reviews for Afterglow: Music That Needs Attention, Divide and Conquer, Goldmine Magazine (print edition), (Belgium), Direct Actu (France), FATEA, Keys & Chords, NeuFutur, The Hollywood Digest, Musikansich (Dutch),,  Daily Pop News, Lonestar Time (Italy), The Alternate RootIndie Band Guru, Tinnitist, AmericanaUK, Musikbloggen 67 (Sweeden),  Nya Skivor (Sweden), Le Cri Du Coyote (France), Berkeley Place, Written In Music, Americana Music Show, Winnipeg Free Press

Reviews for Afterglow single - I Walk The Line for You:, Divide and Conquer, Tattoo Magazine, Review Fix, Yellow & Black Music,

Reviews for Afterglow single -Working Class Heroes:  Stereo Stickman, Shockya, ReviewFix, The Indie Source, Music Existence, Rawkus Magazine, Matheson's Entertainment Blog

Reviews for Afterglow single Hold On: Yellow and Black Magazine,

Review for Afterglow single Afterglow (title track): YHHTMPC,


Existential Frontiers is the third album by White Owl Red, Released March 1, 2019.  

Current Reviews for Existential Frontiers:  

AmericanaUK, The Alternate Root Magazine, Lonesome Highway (Ireland), Skope Magazine, Music Connection, Stomp and Stammer (Bobby Moore), The Winnipeg Free Press/Uptown, Keys and Chords,, Review Fix, The Ark of Music, Indie Pulse Music, Vents Magazine, Shock Ya, Henry Carrigan, Jr., PRVI Radio Slovakia, Jim Hynes, Tinnitist,, Lee Zimmerman,, Harry Kaplan , Indie Source, Music Existence, Stereo Stickman, Left Bank, Review Fix - Interview,  Razorfish Reviews,, musikbloggen67, David Masciotra, FAETA Magazine, LoneStar Time, AltCountry Netherlands Magazine, PopGeni Music Blog (Sweden), Folkworld,

Reviews for the album Naked and Falling: Divide and Conquer, The Alternate Root,  Lonestar TimeTwangri-La

Alternate Root places 'Naked and Falling at 85 of top 100 albums of 2017. 


Music Review: 2AM CHRISTMAS EVE (White Owl Red) 





Sometimes with new Christmas music, I feel stuck between the old-fashioned, the gloopy and the irritating (anything that sounds like Disney Radio). We’ll always have the greats (Ella, Frank, Bing, Bette, Babs) singing the greats (the most popular Christmas music was written by Jewish men), but as with so much plasticized output in all genres these days, where is an original, heartfelt tune awash in poetry that is for everyone, not just the religious? 

Welcome “2am Christmas Eve” from Josef McManus (alias: White Owl Red), the Singer/Songwriter from Portland who blurs in this song and his four albums the lines between Country, Rock, Folk, and Independent while retaining a homegrown Americana sound (some use “Alt-Country”). But it was the lyrics that first grabbed me: 

Met her at a party, It was after 2am 
Din’t ask her what she wanted, She didn’t ask me where I’d been 
Won’t you take me home I just got to get out of these clothes 
There ain’t nothing that you know / That’s gonna save us, from ourselves 
Sitting at the table / Drinking whiskey with doctors and lawyers 
They didn’t have the answers / They gave me cherries and some cake 
Debutante sons and daughters, sat upright in their chairs 
Wearing their holiday finest, their dogs had ribbons in their hairs 
Won’t you take me home I just got to get out of these clothes 
There ain’t nothing that you know / That’s gonna save us, from ourselves this Christmas Eve 

Here is an artist capable of plumbing the depths of America’s soul without using the angry spittle we hear in so many of today’s protest songs. Did I say, “protest”? Well, some of his cuts do deal with social issues, but just being alive in America today IS a social issue. And I believe this is what McManus is exploring. I didn’t realize how slaked I was for meaty content until I recently heard the new Joni Mitchell Archives of previously unreleased material. 

White Owl Red’s site states what I feel: He explores the messy complexity of contemporary culture and values with ferocity and vulnerability, embracing musical innovation without pandering to formula. He writes in his bio about his beginnings that he was “interested in the concept of finding the beauty in the imperfection and flaws in life while expressing that through my art, in contrast to the dominant culture cult-of-perfection.” Please support this artist on his site, and check out his albums Americana Ash, Naked and Falling, Afterglow, Existential Frontiers and, coming out in 2021, Running Blind. 

Here’s another single Xmas Single, “Heartbreak for Christmas”: I’m ready for that Holiday Album now, Mr. McManus.


Reviewers’ Picks for May 2020


Afterglow by White Owl Red 

Calvin Powers 

Normally I like a little more grit in my country music. On the on the hand, White Owl Red have sanded down and polished their sound to a very smooth finish that shows off the grain in the wood. Fair enough. They are excellent story tellers too. They cite Johnny Cash as an inspiration and you can hear that both in the subjects of the songs and the vocal delivery. 

Lyndon Bolton: 

It’s hard to imagine this was once a grunge artist such is Josef McManus’s lyrical and musical sensitivity. Her probes the deep roots of folk to create his own layered sound. ‘Working Class Heroes’ probably sums up the quality of both his wise writing and music. 

Tony Ives: 

Josef McManus appears to be the said fowl and in this gently 70s rolling folk rock album he lays down some pleasant and accessible tunes that are acoustic and beautifully arranged. His voice is a dreamy tenor often complemented by harmonies. Us critics like a little more ‘edge’ but I’ve seen albums of such melodic, yet unexceptional, upbeat outings soar in the charts over the years. Maybe our feathered friend might get a break (not beak) and this will take flight. 

Bill Rutsch: 

I’d call this more folk than country or rock (other than “Tip Top Bob’s”) . Light accompaniment (snare, steel, organ, piano, guitars) to an airy, Woody Guthrie style delivery. Check out the deep electric guitar twang on the anthem “Working Class Heroe’s”.


White Owl Red 
Afterglow (Independent) 

J.J. McManus (a.k.a. White Owl Red) is now four albums into his musical recordings career and it’s worth explaining why his work has been credited for being "better alt-country music. 

Afterglow has heart and it has power. McManus delivers the kind of songs that resonate of a thoughtful life, and those feelings are crafted into songs with meaning and even playfulness. There is no forcing of the moods here, either. The musicianship is of the highest quality and the group McManus has engaged for his albums (Kyle Caprista, drums, Gawain Mathews, guitars, and backing vocals by Leah Tysee, Tonia Smith and Sage Gray) are outstanding. 

The opening title track is essentially horrific in its subject matter, a sombre tale of abuse and death, yet in the hands of McManus and crew, the leisurely rhythm and sweet musical hooks draw you in. I Walk The Line For You is an idiosyncratic homage to Johnny Cash’s love for his wife, June Carter, and here McManus modulates his own appealing vocals just enough to sound like the Man In Black. 

The rollicking Out on the Waters offers a country and Celtic swagger that rolls along, buoyed by a snappy beat, accordion and mandolin. There’s some humour shot through the organ-charged Tip Top Bob’s, wherein one regular patron of the titular, off-the-beaten-track watering hole advises another "don’t bring a knife to a gunfight" and "don’t piss off Red when he’s feeling blue." 

The drifting country/folk of The Way I Feel would have been a perfect fit for Gregg Allman to sing on his way to the great gig in the sky. Always the worker’s union supporter, McManus delivers a worthy partner to Union Fight Song from his 2019 album, Existential Frontiers, with the dutiful and insightful Working Class Heroes. 

Afterglow proves once again that McManus can create beauty from the residue of his life experiences and supply the kind of emotional immediacy that makes for a cool listen. ★★★★ out of five 

STREAM THESE: Through is Through, Tip Top Bob’s 

— Jeff Monk



Album Review: White Owl Red - Afterglow







March Print Issue 2020 (taken from larger article)

White Owl Red bears a similarly strange handle, but they too produce a sound that’s constantly pleasing and immediately affecting. The San Francisco-based band — which currently consists of singer/songwriter Josef McManus, drummer Kyle Caprista, guitarist Gawain Mathews, and backing singing Leah Tysee —can boast an unfailingly solid and stoic commitment to their craft, as their new album Afterglow so decidedly demonstrates.. Ever articulate, the songs bear several classic references, from Johnny Cash (“I Walk the Line (For You))” to the plight of American workers and the Red Scare of the 1950s (“Working Class Heroes”). It’s not that they’re embroiled in overly somber sentiments; they’re not. But for all its melodic graces, this is a decidedly solid effort, and one worthy of wide recognition. It’s difficult to classify — Americana may be the most apt description — but given the strength of these songs, any typecasting seems irrelevant anyway. Indeed, Afterglow shines bright.

Lee Zimmerman