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“I was thrown in the boat/Cast out to sea/Friendly with waves/There were sharks below/Hungry for meat/So I dangled my legs,” sings folk-rock storyteller Dan Mangan in the lengthy-titled album opener  “About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All.” With flourishing instrumentals and a quickly commanding voice, Mangan sets sail on the weighty and turbulent voyage that is Oh Fortune.

Marking a departure from his previous albums—including the 2010 Polaris Music Prize nominated Nice, Nice, Very NiceMangan’s third full-length release charts murkier waters, navigating currents of mortality, isolation and despair. Lamenting life’s fortunes with a vulnerable honesty, Mangan presses on with arresting tales of wonder and woe. From the delicate whistling in “If I Am Dead” to the tenacious crescendos in “Rows Of Houses,” Oh Fortune maintains its sincerity throughout.  

Left with more questions than answers, Oh Fortune winds down with the endless musings of album closer “Jeopardy” (“What am I doing?/What time is it?/Have I always been filled with questions?”), reminding us that the wheel of fortune spins on.

By Hilary Marchildon
Oct 5, 2011

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