Dan Mangan w/Matt Holubowski
Friday, January 24, 9pm
The Marquee Ballroom, 2037 Gottingen Street
$39 adv/$44 show
"When you're making records you kind of just follow your gut. It happened to take me back in this direction that's a little more direct, a little more sincere," says Dan Mangan of his fifth, most tender album More or Less. "I think maybe that's because at this time, that's kind of what I wanted from the world so that's what I was putting out into it."
More or Less isn't shrouded in much metaphor: Mangan writes about aging, social anxiety, fear, fatherhood and punch-you-in-the-gut love. He calls producer Drew Brown (Radiohead, Beck) his kryptonite in the project. Most of the recording—save for two songs, "Fool For Waiting" and "Troubled Mind"—took place over three serendipitous days in LA, where Brown brought together an all-star band of players who hadn't heard the songs before, and sometimes two takes were enough.
"Drew wanted to capture something human and imperfect," says Mangan, crediting his minimalist approach for ensuring the record remained raw and vulnerable. "That may be why the record sounds warm and feels warm. He didn't let anything get in the way of the songs."
His last record came together as we were on the brink of something—Harper was prime minister, Obama was president and 2015's foreboding Club Meds saw the political chaos on the horizon. Personally, Mangan was on the brink of something too. Now, he's a father of two, a dude in his mid-30s, and this time around it made more sense to offer comfort over commentary. To profess personal stories people could connect with.
"When you write a song, or write a play, or make a piece of art you're kind of sending out a smoke signal to the world," he says. "Then, magically, someone else might see it or hear it and think, 'That's just how I feel.' Even if it's just for a moment, it's sort of a relief of their existential loneliness because you go, 'Oh this person gets me.' And it's not that they get you, but they get something about themselves and we're all really similar."
Mangan hasn't abandoned his political side, of course. His approach is just a softer, more vulnerable one. His family, his young sons and the last few years of his life have raised the stakes on many levels, but instead of racking his brain about how to fix the world, he's just fine jacking the temperature a little.
"There's always been a lot of pain in the world but now we have access to the pain all the time. If you want to stay up until 3am you can do that every night, there's worldwide, 24-hour access to as much pain as you can stand," he says. "In the most sincere way, I wanted the record to feel like an embrace. I wanted it to feel like a place you could go for some warmth."