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Years before he criss-crossed North America as an acclaimed country singer and a true road warrior—playing nightly shows in support of his 2019 debut album Leave It Like It Is, while also sharpening the larger-than-life sound that would fill his 2020 follow-up EP New Ink—Manny spent his days in the gym, training for a career as an MMA fighter. When a leg injury left him unable to compete in professional matches, Blu found himself at home in Montreal, recovering from a torn quadricep and looking for a new passion to pass the time. What he found was a renewed appreciation for music: first, the guitar-driven blues of B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and John Mayer; next, the easygoing swagger and relatable storytelling of modern country.

Accompanying himself on the guitar and singing in an expressive voice, Manny began taking requests from the friends who’d come over to the house to visit. Those casual performances marked his first time playing music for anyone, and the experience left a permanent mark.

“That was how it all started,” Manny remembers. “All of my friends were living in other towns, playing hockey. They’d come back to Montreal during the summer, once hockey season was over, and they’d ask me to play the country songs they’d been listening to. I learned all the hits…and I learned there’s a culture and a vibe to country music that’s like nothing else.”

Manny now continues to bring his own vibe to country music, creating an original sound that makes room for his blues and rock & roll influences. He introduced that sound with Leave It Like It Is, a debut record that earned him thousands of new fans and presented him with the opportunity to hit the road. Manny subsequently spent time in Nashville, immersing himself in Music City, before heading back up north once again–this time with his band of hard-edged country rockers in tow—to serve as fellow Canadian country artist George Canyon’s opening act during a two-month tour. Night after night, Manny hit the stage with a mission, aiming to win over the crowd with an undeniable live show. The guitars got louder. The drums grew even more pummeling. And the songs became even more anthemic.

In Nashville, he began piecing together a new record—one that showcased the lessons he learned on the road. Working with producer Aaron Eshuis and hit songwriters like Josh Osborne, Rhett Atkins, and Ross Copperman, Manny Blu emerged from Nashville’s OmniSound Studios with New Ink. From “Born To Ride” to “Sink,” these new songs tell relatable stories about love, loss, breakups, and everything in between, rooted in an amplified mix of country twang and heavy rock & roll attitude.

“I wanted the album to sound the way we do live,” says Manny. “There’s more rock, more soul, and more volume this time around. It’s bigger and louder, but it’s still me. And more importantly, it’s still fun.”

Raised as a versatile athlete who played hockey, soccer, and football before kickstarting his MMA training at 16-years-old, Manny Blu hasn’t lost that fighting spirit. If anything, he’s gotten stronger, learning to roll with the punches and knock down any obstacles in his path. New Ink, with its hard-hitting hooks and country-rock edge, is the soundtrack to a career on the rise–and Manny Blu is ready to deliver a knockout blow.

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