Oh Fortune

Oh Fortune

Dan Mangan hits his musical stride on his third studio album, Oh Fortune. Produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Cave Singers, etc.), the lengthily titled opener, “About as Helpful as You Can Be Without Being Any Help at All,” has cascading drones that gradually blossom into a handsome orchestra of lush strings, horns, and woodwinds arranged by Eyvind Kang. (He composed similar arrangements for The Decemberists' Crane Wife.) Over all this, Mangan’s earnest voice sounds like he’s reinventing the sea chantey with an indie slant. “How Darwinian” is similarly ornate, but with more baroque-pop trimmings keeping Mangan’s folk approach to songwriting intact. The skittering electric guitar solos that distort and dance around “Post-War Blues” are rooted in pure ‘90s indie rock. But rather than take a similarly retro direction with his singing, Mangan’s manly baritone rails against the United States’ decade-long occupations in the Middle East. The somber “If I Am Dead” nicely contrasts distant-sounding whistles with Mangan’s upfront presence.

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