With his new album, More Or Less, Canadian songsmith, Dan Mangan has made music that is both more sparse and more direct than on previous albums. He was inspired to take this path by listening to classic albums such as Pink Moon by Nick Drake and Astral Weeks by Van Morrison during the recording process. He also took less time over whole process in an attempt to capture the ultimate performance for the record. LP and CD on City Slang.
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LP on City Slang.
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CD £13.49 SLANG50177
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Dan Mangan, (Canadian songsmith), starts very jauntily on his new album on City Slang, ‘More or Less’. The lead-off track ‘Lynchpin’ rollicks along -- sprightly and surprisingly poppily -- from this singer so self-admittedly in awe of Van Morrison and Nick Drake (he had been listening to ‘Astral Weeks’ and ‘Pink Moon’ between recording sessions). Tight drumming and a bouncy bassline help propel the track along and it’s a very melodic and catchy tune -- Mangan’s hushed and breathy vocal sitting perfectly amongst the synth melody and drumbeats. ‘Peaks and Valleys’ is even better with Mangan’s melancholic drawl floating above some gorgeous guitar strums, shuffling drums and textural electronics twinkling away happily throughout.
I can hear the influence of Van in Dan’s soulful delivery on ‘Just Fear’, and a little bit of Tim Buckley in the impressive shapes and timbres of his voice on following track ‘Lay Low’ -- sparsely instrumented and delicately, beautifully nuanced here. ‘Cold In The Summer’ sounds like a radio hit in the making with another big, sing-along chorus and evocative melody. Another big, fast-paced tune is next, ready for next Summer’s festival circuit: with its much repeated refrain “Haunted by the melody…”, ‘Troubled Mind’ reminds me of Maximo Park(!)
So far, I’m not hearing much in the way of a Nick Drake influence on this record. The closest he comes to channeling the spirit of Tanworth-in-Arden’s finest is on tracks 9 and 10, in Mangan’s mournful delivery on ‘Which Is It’ and the funk in his acoustic guitar (‘Never Quiet’). So many elements of this record to enjoy and soak up -- plus there’s a variety of seabirds in the front cover pic, what’s not to like?
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