More or Less by Dan Mangan
On November 2nd, 2018, Dan Mangan released his fifth album “More or Less”. In Mangan’s words “More or Less is about witnessing birth, and in some ways rebirth. It’s about feeling disconnected from a popular identity and becoming acclimated to a new one. It’s about raising kids in a turbulent world. It’s about unanswerable questions and kindness and friendship and fear”.
When I first heard this album all I heard was a generic uninteresting voice. I also thought that while his lyrics touched on deep topics of fear, kindness and love, I felt resignation in his songs and that the connection made was too ‘surface level’. Yet, compared to his other albums “More or Less” seams to have a whole new perspective on life, one that comes with age and a change of circumstances. While his voice may be generic, his music is uniquely minimal, soft, warm and cozy. The music itself is very spacious to allow the listener to absorb and feel every word. The whole album is very emotional and personal. I could really feel Mangan’s soul pour out in his music.
Yet, it was not till the third song in the album, “Fool for Waiting”, that I felt a true deep connection to his music. This song was beautifully crafted but, at times I felt the instruments took away from his creatively crafted lyrics. The instrumental music does not over power the lyrics creating a perfect balance that evokes emotions of love.
“Lay Low” was also beautifully paced with lots of lulls in the song that force you to feel the emotion. The listener can hear Mangan stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.
“Just Fear” was written after the birth of his second son and the beginning of the Trump administration. This song talks about the fear he feels in the world around us. I believe this is the most personal song on the album as it discusses the fear of government, failure and ourselves that we are parlayed by. The instrumentals in the song took away from the lyrics but overall, the message was strong and captivating.
“Which is it?” is the most mellow song in the album with a nice rhythm. It has carefree vibes that discuss how we are always drawn to the things that ultimately hurt us and how we always try to keep our desires hidden. While this song was more enjoyable to listen to still felt like surface level content
Overall, I did enjoy Dan Mangan album. I thought the lyrics were well written with unique messages. Yet, I still find his voice too generic with nothing that makes a lasting impression on me.