8. Dan Mangan, Oh Fortune
Having expanded his audience considerably with 2009’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice, Oh Fortune finds singer-songwriter Dan Mangan in a more contemplative mood, if tracks like “If I Am Dead” are any indication. What could have been just idle introspection in the hands of a less capable musician, however, serves as a springboard for Mangan to expand his lyrical and sonic palette, with remarkable results. “As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All” is a romantic waltz balanced by lyrics dealing with the dangers of becoming too narcissistic, and “Leaves, Trees, Forest” rests on music that feels at times like sonic sunshine. While the realism of Oh Fortune may be initially disheartening, it soon becomes clear that at the base of every song lies a subtle, yet persistent, glimmer of hope – a pragmatic but confident foundation for survival in our often overwhelming world.