Dan Mangan - Oh Fortune
Third album from the alt.folk Canadian combines the bombastic with the understated
(Arts & Crafts)
Dan Mangan’s third album is a noticeable progression from his last (2009’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice). He’s retained his talent for marrying lush orchestration with catchy pop hooks and the odd spot of lyrical genius. Now though, he’s changed venue: each track on Oh Fortune seems to have been recorded in a church, with a much more expansive sound as a result. While initially this feels like a bad thing – the intimacy he established on Nice Nice, Very Nice is a lot harder to conjure up when slathered with echo – it becomes a virtue on tracks like ‘Rows of Houses’, in which soaring group harmonies fill the vaulted space.
Production notes aside, Mangan’s diversity of style is still present and correct, as evidenced by the indie-rock bounce of ‘Post-War Blues’, the mournful country twang of ‘Jeopardy’ and the slightly twee chamber folk of album opener ‘About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All’. He’s also still capable of the odd ear-catching turn of phrase (‘I lit up like a match cos I bled gasoline’), although his earnestness in trying to imbue some banalities with profound meaning can get grating (‘there are leaves on the trees, there are trees in the forest’ – you don’t say?).
These churlish niggles aside though, it’s a corker of an album – let the big, bombastic numbers pull you in, then keep coming back as the more understated tracks plant roots in your psyche.