Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Jul 24th 2009 3:15PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
It's difficult to say whether it's getting easier or harder to discover a good song. Today's iTunes culture lends itself to sifting through a ton of music, but that inundation of choice can often feel like one big muddle. But when the new single from the latest band jumping on the hipster bandwagon starts to get tiresome, coming across a new song by an artist you haven't heard before can feel like uncovering an alluring secret.
That's what it's like listening to Vancouver singer-songwriter Dan Mangan's debut full-length, 'Nice, Nice, Very Nice.' Recorded between 2006 and 2008 in Toronto and Vancouver during Mangan's rare tour breaks, the album is an overview of the narrative-based folk-rock that's won him a devoted fan base across North America, the U.K. and Australia.
It's perhaps unsurprising that the well-traveled Mangan chose to kick off his record with a tune called 'Road Regrets' -- anyone who's even experienced the heady cocktail of endless driving and bad rest stop coffee will immediately relate to Mangan's cannily sketched tale of putting pedal to the metal.
While rootsy singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen, what sets Mangan apart is his knack for a charmingly clever turn of phrase -- his rough-hewn delivery is so nonchalant and unshowy that you almost miss the zingers spewing from his lips. "So find Dodge and then get out of it/It's about as country as I get," he sings, and there's something both regretful yet matter-of-fact in his gravelly voice.
It's not just his lyricism that stands out, either. The arrangement echoes the memorable quality of the storytelling, opening with a familiar-sounding strummed acoustic guitar part before the percussion kicks in like a steady heartbeat and backup harmonies (courtesy of fellow songwriters Veda Hille and Justin Rutledge) sweeten the choruses.
Mangan's sound isn't exactly breaking new ground, but he follows in the grand tradition of Canadian troubadours for whom storytelling is as important as soundscaping. Fans of like-minded observational singer-songwriters like Danny Michel and Joel Plaskett might want to add 'Road Regrets' to their latest playlist.