A Matter Of Life & Death is a concept album based upon a character Guy Manning created on his 1999 release Tall Stories For Small Children. It explores the twists and turns of fate that leads a man ultimately to his own death and rebirth.
Guests include Ian Fairbairn who credits with Lindisfarne and Jack The Lad as well as Andy Tillison whose work is featured on po90 and Tangent
One thing can be said about Guy Manning, he is not one to fall back on proven recipes. His three albums I am familiar with have different flavors, even though the Manning trademark is easily identified. I would qualify A Matter Of Life And Death - The Journal Of Abel Mann as the least prog of the three. This being said, I am convinced that most prog rock fans will find more than enough to sink their teeth into. For example the first track, "The Dream" is a killer. Very rhythmic and ending with a great synth solo. Other tracks like "Omens", "Silent Man" and the VDGG inspired "Out Of My Life" have loads of prog elements for the lover of the genre. The rest of the tracks consist mostly of highly emotional ballads, with great instrumentation and often featuring unexpected "twists and turns". The album closes with a surprise, a 60's style rock & roll song. Nice, but a bit out of place on the album IMO. Hey! that's Guy Manning I guess. Part of the fun is not knowing what to expect from him. Guy himself has this to say about that song : <<The last song - Midnight Sail..the idea behind that piece..apart from its important place in the story narrative..was also to provide an end of the night 'sing-a-long' song..I wanted a "..thank you Wembley and goodnight..." Finale number to 'end the show' and so this seemed ideal to fulfill both purposes and have a lot of fun with the 'band' at the same time>>.
In conclusion, A Matter Of Life And Death - The Journal Of Abel Mann should fully satisfy all Guy Manning fans. For those not familiar with him, it's a nice way to get acquainted with him.