"Tom Mank is a monster songwriter, right up there with the best, and can paint musical pictures like you can't believe. And Sera Jane Smolen? She is nothing short of masterful.." - Frank Gutch Jr. hubpages.com. Produced by Julie Last.
"Tom Mank is a monster songwriter in the vein of the old folk/blues artists like Dave Van Ronk, but with a sense of the present. His music portraits range from romantic to political and when they don't reach for the heart, they embed themselves in the head. He is intelligence in music. Sera Jane Smolen, on the other hand, is music personified. Her cello supplements Mank's guitar with bass riffs and jazz phrasing as well as support from the masters." - Frank Gutch Jr., Hubpages.com
"Sera Smolen’s sinuous cello and Tom Mank’s driving guitar generate a firm beat beneath metablues that is homespun yet exotic, hinting of smoky nights in Istanbul or Calcutta.” - Spider Barbour, Woodstock Times
"The songs on Paper Kisses are soft kisses on the cheek and quiet conversations in the night. They are late evenings and early mornings in subdued light or in the dark. They are hope and despair and joy and angst. They are a Tom Mank & Sera Smolen gift to the discerning ears of people who treasure music beyond its use as filler or background music.
This is a big step forward for Mank and Smolen in that it is the most cohesive effort to-date. The feel, the aura, the music--- they all inhabit one point in time, or so it seems. Mank has grown exponentially as guitarist, Smolen steps out of the background a bit more (which makes a huge and positive difference), and the contributions of the “guest” artists are somewhat minimal and yet crucial. Pulled together by the musical vision of Mank and Smolen and the legerdemain of producer Julie Last, Paper Kisses hits the mark and will stand on its own long after Mank and Smolen have recorded their future projects, of which I hope there to be many. What I'm saying is, it is no wonder Mank has put his last two projects into Last's hands. It is in the grooves." - Frank Gutch Jr., Rock and Reprise
“From the very first notes on, they excite your imagination. The cello of Sera Smolen and the voice of Tom Mank
create magic." - Marcie for Rootstime, Belgium
"Tom Mank is one of those singers who could be reciting the phone book and you'd go 'yeah, there's something to that!' Sera Smolen's cello takes us all kinds of places weird & wonderful, while never losing touch with the emotional roots of the songs. She's soloistic, but always in a way that supports the overall thrust of the music. Her cellistic terrain includes emotive, whacked-out natural sound fx & highenergy solos drawn from many influences, such as 19th century etudes and Indian ragas, to name but a few. Smolen is a passionate player who is clearly intimate with the inherent joy in taking musical risks. It is thrilling when artists dig in and craft a work as rich, vibrant and authentic as this." - Corbin Keep, Cello City
"Tom Mank and Sera Smolen are so far beyond the mainstream, it's scary. They are expert at their craft, but more than that, they develop it. At their level, I am not at all sure that it is a craft but art. Regardless, I know one thing. There can't be a gig they play where a large percentage of their audience is not comprised of fellow musicians. That, my friends, is a given, and it speaks volumes." - Frank Gutch Jr., Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
March 28, 2010
Recorded October 2008 - March 2010 by Julie Last @ Cold Brook Productions, Bearsville, NY - additional recording by Will Russell at Electric Wilburland and by Greg McGrath at Monk Sound
Mastered by Rich DePaolo
Graphic Design by Patti Witten
Artists: Julie Last (vocal), Kirsti Gholson (vocal), Jennie Lowe Stearns (vocal), Kathy Ziegler (piano, vocal), Manuel Quintana (percussion), Dave Unland (Tuba), Mac Benford (banjo), and Joe Villette (gryphon 12-string)