2018, Music

More or Less (2018) by Dan Mangan

I know Mangan’s name from reading too many reviews of Canadian music in the aughts, but I apparently never got around to listening to him. So, of course, I’m starting with his sixth album.

Mangan’s s sound varies from traditional folk to indie rock-esque, with some somewhat poppier stuff. It seems to really depend on the song. And the instruments he’s using also seem to vary by the needs of the song. Sometimes that can be a problem for me, but because of Mangan’s voice and the feel of personal authorship, it works.

The songs are good. It’s clear this is a guy who knows how to write songs, in a couple of different idioms. There’s at least one song with a different arrangement that could easily be very different tonally – and potentially even a bit of a hit.

As I mentioned, the arrangements are kind of all over the place. Sometimes it’s his voice, and very little instrumentation. Sometimes it’s a guitar or piano and not much else on the backing track. On “Can’t Not” he sounds like a 21st century, indie Roy Harper due to the effects (not his voice). On some tracks there are prominent electric guitar or keyboard parts and other songs where it’s hard to imagine it’s on an album that would feature prominent electric guitar or keyboard parts. If it’s folk, it’s folk in only the broadest, most 21st century definition of the term. (Really, there are just folk songs and songs that are absolutely not folk songs either due to composition or arrangement.)

It’s a testament to Mangan that it doesn’t sound any more schizophrenic than it does. I do also believe that there’s been enough music like this – meshing up a bunch of different styles as a singer-songwriter – that we’re used to this kind of genre-hopping now.

The production is fine. It’s one of those “indie” albums that has little of the stuff that made ’90s indie “indie,” so very rarely doesn’t some idiosyncrasy threaten to overwhelm the song.

Fine stuff.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.