Release Date: Sep 27, 2011
Record label: Arts & Crafts
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Folk
If you're going to connect with people, Dan Mangan wrote in the Guardian last week, "you have to get vulnerable". Sure enough, the Canadian's third album is a record to turn to in moments of irresolution, not because it provides any answers, but because Mangan seems to be asking the same questions. "What happens when all flags burn together?" he wonders in Jeopardy, over lilting guitar and cheerful trumpets.
There’s a Christmas market that sets up shop here in Birmingham every winter. It’s a sprawling web of stalls and vendors that throws a splash of colour and exuberance on an often-dreary extended advent period. I walked through its network of pop-up stalls, past a disparate array of traders trying to offload their goods on my way home last week. As I did so, I listened to Dan Mangan’s Oh Fortune.
If you were ever a fan of [a]Johnny Flynn[/a]’s folk-indebted baritone swoons but wished he’d just, like, cheer the hell up a bit, then ‘[b]Oh Fortune[/b]’ is here to brighten the melancholic corners and then some. Between Mangan’s quavering vocal and way with a rabble-rouser lies a touch of the Mumfords – but don’t go running just yet. Packed with grandiose [a]Grizzly Bear[/a] harmonies (highlight ‘[b]Row Of Houses[/b]’) and slow-building, orchestral touches (‘[b]How Darwinian[/b]’), ‘[b]Oh Fortune[/b]’ spans a wider spectrum than its folky core might imply, adding grandeur and a refreshing, cerebral spin to proceedings.[i]Lisa Wright[/i] .
After keeping things fairly stripped-down on Nice, Nice, Very Nice, Dan Mangan takes a fuller approach to this 2011 follow-up, which widens the playing field with orchestral arrangements (courtesy of Eyvind Kang, who brought a similar sonic sweep to the Decemberists' Crane Wife) and an imaginative backup band. Oh, Fortune is still an indie folk album at heart, with Mangan’s acoustic guitar and baritone voice giving every song its most basic foundation, but it’s also the most ornate thing he’s ever done, often sounding more like the Swell Season’s lush pop than Bon Iver’s sparse Americana. The album starts with a waltz and ends with a two-minute horn solo, and the stuff in between is similarly eclectic, from the indie rock wallop of “Post-War Blues” to the hazy, almost psychedelic folk-pop of “Leaves, Trees, Forest.
DAN MANGAN plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre October 28. See listing. Rating: NNN Something's happened to Dan Mangan. With his new album, the young Vancouver musician has leapt ahead not one or two steps, but three or four. At times, it's hard to believe you're listening to the same guy who wrote ….
Dan Mangan’s best song, “Road Regrets”, was an endearingly straightforward bit of melodic folk-rock, rich with the romantically cynical posturing of a prematurely grizzled young troubadour, that occasional by-the-book example of a sturdy pop/rock formula that actually makes you glad that someone still reads. Imagine hearing it over the din of crowd noise and breaking bottles in a small, smoky Canadian bar as you sway along, beer in hand, to its square, stomping rhythm and you’ve captured it in its ideal setting. Its accompanying album, Nice Nice Very Nice, was, for the most part, similarly tuneful and likable, winning a fair bit of acclaim in Mangan’s native Canada upon its release in 2009, enough that indie stalwart Arts & Crafts picked it up for international release a year later.
This third album from the Canadian singer will chase away the winter chills. Mike Diver 2011 Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Mangan has an impressive CV – he’s toured with the likes of The Decemberists and Okkervil River; his second album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice, was nominated for the Polaris Prize; and he’s graced festival stages as prestigious as those found at Glastonbury and, stateside, Sasquatch. But this hard work, particularly domestically, is yet to translate into widespread recognition on these shores.