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Album: Close by Me

Artist: Kelly Manu

Genre: Christian, Gospel, Country

Label: Independent

Close by Me was released on the 13th of January, 2014 by Toronto-based Kelly Manu, an AIM Gospel Artist of the Year 2013 nominee. Primarily gospel/country, the album consists of twelve tracks.


Track Rating
Close by Me ★★★½☆
Never ★★½☆☆
Did You ★★★½☆
Don’t Ever Leave Me ★★★☆☆
Glorious Light ★★★★☆
God’s So Amazing ★★★☆☆
Bud A Da Close ★★★☆☆
Go Away ★★★½☆
One of a Kind ★★½☆☆
This is So Crazy ★★★★☆
Always ★★★★☆
I Love You (Te Amo) ★★★☆☆

1.      Close by Me

At the first listen, the song sounds rather simplistic. However, with repeated listening, the simplicity of the hook becomes a thing of beauty. The sentiment behind the chorus is felt and is heartwarming. It is a gospel song with beats that are very country.

2.      Never

Never seems to lack the fervor and energy that would get the message across. The vocals feel mild and/ distant at various parts of the song and on the whole, it didn’t really reach me.

3.      Did You

This song is an easy listen. The lyrics, which seem sunny and accessible on the surface, run deep. The chorus, in particular, could resonate with anyone.

4. Don’t Ever Leave Me

The opening lines, in particular, ring with vocals that echo genuineness. Kelly Manu’s vocals are sweet and from the heart. However, midway, it feels like the instrumentation could have been more minimalist. It distracts the listener from dwelling on the lyrics and ceases to have any kind of lyrical impact.

5.      Glorious Light

Right from the opening beats, this track feels like it’s going to be a good one. The lyrics, which are sparkly and uplifting, slowly weave their way into your heart.

6.      God’s So Amazing

This track was a mixed bag for me. Kelly’s vocals, that sound genuinely awed, complement the sentiments behind the song that are outright, open and honest; making this song moderately impactful.

7.      Bud A Da Close

This song is lighter and cheerier than any of the previous tracks! The instrumentation is sunny and the vibe carefree though the vocals could sound a little less high-strung and more relaxed.

8.      Go Away

A song with vibrant lyrics, where Kelly sings about holding on to her faith. “Don’t you go away/ Don’t you ever leave/oh, I need you here/oh, here with me!”

9.      One of a Kind

This felt like a filler song that the album could’ve done without. The vocals have a charm of their own but the lyrics are nothing to write home about. Overall, track feels repetitive and underwhelming.

10.  This is So Crazy

Kelly’s vocals stand out here as they complement the mood of the song. The soothing beats never go overboard. It is a track that gets the balance of feel and execution right.

11.  Always

A slow song that initially feels like it would be a slow-burn. However, the chorus, which comes together beautifully, instantly wins you over.

12.  I Love You (Te Amo)  

The beats, though a little shaky in its impact in the beginning, are memorable. Edging away from the country vibe of the album, this song feels a little more mainstream. The chorus has its moments!

Verdict: Despite a few misses, Close by Me definitely has its moments. For country/gospel fans, it’s worth a listen!

Picks of the Album: Glorious Light, Always, This is So Crazy, Did You

Overall Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆