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Emerging singer-songwriter
breathes new life into age-old music

Mike Mangione - There and Back
(Self produced)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 17, 2006
Mike Mangione

Review by Tony Bonyata

Hailing from Milwaukee, by way of Chicago, singer-songwriter Mike Mangione has just released his second self-produced full-length album entitled There and Back. Despite being related to famed jazz trumpeter Chuck Mangione, his music speaks from a completely different vocabulary. The twelve tracks this restless musician unveils here not only showcase his craft at songwriting but his appreciation for both rock & roll and Americana music.

Like any self-respecting musical troubadour, Mangione shunned the nine-to-five grind after finishing college in favor of packing up his guitar and taking his songs on the road. Providing the lion's share of duties on There And Back (tackling vocals, guitar, drums, harmonica and piano) he's also helped out by his brother Tom on guitar, piano and vocals, along with a few other session musicians that help to add a little meat to the bones of these sturdy songs.

From the gentle acoustic folk-balladry of the bittersweet "Tonight," "Down the Road" and the closing track "Bow Down To You" to the more pop-influenced numbers, such as "Until We Meet Again," "Diamond Eyes" and the driving opening track "Girl from the Midwest," complete with a percolating rhythm and Mangione's own passion-drenched vocal delivery, this entertaining album suggests that some of Mangione's own influences come by way of Jeff Buckley and Ryan Adams.

One of the more interesting tracks here is the dark, foreboding number "Exordium," which features Mangione delivering his spiked lyrics with a growling baritone voice amidst an introspective acoustic guitar-line, which eventually gives way briefly to a hopeful glimmer of slide guitar. Mangione also breathes new life into the traditional folk-number "Moonshiner" with a positively haunting rendition that beckons to the past through the voice of an emerging new talent; a talent we'll surely be hearing more from in the future.

Mike Mangione will be performing February 3rd 8:00 pm at Espresso Christoph , 3116 N. Downer. Milwaukee, WI. and February 4th 10:00 pm at Uncommon Ground, 3800 N. Clark, Chicago, IL.

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