“There’s something to be said for running from pigeonholes,” says Vancouver indie troubadour Dan Mangan, an observation that sets the stage, well... nicely... for his excellent, much-buzzed and genre-blurring sophomore album Nice, Nice, Very Nice (August 10, Arts and Crafts). It's been a while since we've heard an album quite this delightfully ramshackle, a sprawling, loosely tied mass of brilliant songwriting that fires like buckshot but hits with pinpoint accuracy. Mangan, winner of the '09 XM Verge Award for Artist of the Year, is also in possession of one of our best distinctive voices -- literally as well as lyrically -- a gruff rasp that one critic pegged as "at once fleecy warm and sandpaper rough."
Leading a spirited backing chorus through "robots need love, too" as if he's directing some barstool singalong on the joyous "Robots", Mangan clearly, confidently delivers the song's darkly sweet and swaying melody and devastating wit with unassuming aplomb. Throughout Nice, horns and strings are thick and meaty when they need to be ("Robots", "Basket"), guitars jar and drums quake at just the right moments ("Road Regrets"), a touch of country twang and shuffling rhythms descend when the mood calls ("Sold"). But the most powerful moments here are the starkly poignant, when Mangan sits solo at piano for the moving album closer "Set the Sails" or entwines his voice with Veda Hille on the gorgeously orchestrated chamber folk standout "You Silly Git" (award-winning video after the jump). Highly recommended.
Dan Mangan - "Road Regrets" (from the album Nice, Nice, Very Nice)
Dan Mangan - "You Silly Git" (from the album Nice, Nice, Very Nice)