The first time the name Dan Mangan really registered with this writer was when fellow young Canadian troubadour Jon Janes (aka The Mountains & The Trees) paid tribute to him during his set at End Of The Road Festival. And it’s easy to see from the tight instrumentation, crisply executed arrangements and literate songs on this second album why Mangan could be something of a musician’s musician.
Standout track Robots, with its hushed choruses of tickled banjos and gently building vocal harmonies dynamically rising into a brass fuelled singalong, has deservedly been an award winning radio hit in his homeland, whilst the accomplished storytelling of Tina’s Glorious Comeback and sumptuous vocals added by Veda Hille on The Indie Queens Are Waiting provide equally subtle delights. Livelier momentum and pace comes with the shuffling burst of Sold and crunchy alt country riffs of opener Road Regrets.
It’s all undeniably catchy and charming, yet breezes by so smoothly and pleasantly that there’s an overriding feeling that eventually the album becomes less than the sum of its parts. Perhaps as this 23-year-old develops he’ll start to challenge himself and explore the boundaries of his vocal ability, which currently doesn’t quite have the ‘lived in’ quality that lends emotional ballast to narrative songs.
Reports of his Glastonbury John Peel stage set conjure up a magical showman wandering through the crowd with his guitar. If he can tap into that sort of inspiration in the recording studio he should really start to fulfil his potential on album number three.