The world of folky sounding singer-songwriters is a huge sea; it’s very easy to have one bleed into the next without even knowing the difference. One of the singer-songwriters that has really stood out to me in the past few years is Vancouverite Dan Mangan. It’s weird how someone can go from relative obscurity to almost being a household name in Canada in the matter of a few years, but that’s exactly what Dan Mangan has done.
Dan released his first album titled Postcards And Daydreaming in a relatively quiet manner: independently in 2005. Not to say that is album is bad by any means (it really isn’t), but the best was definitely yet to come for Dan.
In 2009, the release of his sophomore album was when Dan’s popularity really began to take off. The album, titled Nice, Nice, Very Nice was released on Arts & Craft records. I can personally say that I listened the hell out of that album, and for good reason; it’s a great album. Nice, Nice, Very Nice really took Dan’s popularity to new heights. It all culminated when Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the 2010 Polaris Prize. The award eventually went to Karkwa for their album Les Chemins De Verre, but Dan gained national recognition because of his nomination.
There were a lot great songs on Nice, Nice, Very Nice, but in my opinion the best of the bunch was “Robots.” I’ve been fortunate enough to see Dan live three times in the past year, and “Robots” is without a doubt the best sing-a-long song that I’ve ever heard. You can check out an example down below. It just gets every single person singing along and into the show so effortlessly.
In 2011, Dan released his highly anticipated third album in Arts & Crafts which was titled Oh Fortune. I’m still not personally sure whether or not I like it more or less than Nice, Nice, Very Nice, but I can safely say that it’s definitely a denser listen. The instrumentation surrounding Oh Fortune definitely adds a level that Nice, Nice, Very Nice didn’t have. Oh Fortune will surely garner a lot of consideration for the 2012 Polaris Prize.
Besides Dan’s gruff voice and captivating music, one of the reasons that he’s so loved in Canada is simply because of how nice he is. I know it seems like something that gets said about tons of musicians, but with Dan it feels more deserved. Staying late after shows and making sure that he speaks to everybody that wants to talk to him must get tough to do, but it’s still something he does night after night.
I, for one, hope that Dan’s popularity keeps growing. He recently won two Juno awards here in Canada, which will hopefully push him into the ears of many people who have never heard his music before.