Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Mike Mangione is a man who wears many hats. Not only is he constantly on the road playing his unique form of music, dubbed Orchestral Folk across the US, but he’s also interviewing an array of guests ranging from musicians to Olympians, discussing the motivations behind their motivation on his podcast, Time and the Mystery. Amid all that hustle and bustle, Mike Mangione and the Kin have still found the time to team up with producer Matt “Linny” Linesch of Ed Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s to record their sixth full length album But I’ve Seen the Stars. This is subtly written, hand crafted, Americana of the finest quality. Mike fears no melody, nor form of media. In fact, the only thing Mike Mangione might be afraid of, is a day off.
Mike and his band have taken a few names throughout the years, so here’s a quick rundown:
• Mike Mangione 2005 – 2007
• Mike Mangione and the Union 2013
• Mike Mangione and the Kin 2017
Although the name changes slightly, the foundation of the music stays the same: beautifully written songs that are as affecting as they are honest. This is a thinker that would pair well with a stiff drink and a cold night.
As this album opens you immediately notice it doesn’t have the lift off that say, your typical rock band would shoot for. Instead of machine gunning you with the first song, Mike and the Kin take a different approach, aiming for the heart with flawless three-part harmonies and a longing for home in the song, “Three Days”. It takes fortitude to open an album with a ballad, but this song is so catchy you understand that choice. Mike’s voice is worth the price of admission alone, baring a strong similarity to Danny O’Donoghue of The Script, but what really makes But I’ve Seen the Stars so unique is the masterful strings and harmonies of sisters Monique and Chantel Ross. They are the icing on this audible cake, and will have musicians everywhere trading in their banjos for cellos and violins. Mike put plenty of ear worms on this album, but the third track “Only Love” is a night crawler. The hook is as meaningful as it is catchy, and the strings are layered just right. This record has a lot of the same properties as country music. If you remove the lyrics about honky tonks, add a bit more soul, and throw in a traditional string ensemble; you get Mike Mangione and the Kin. Think of this as anti-country.
But I’ve Seen the Stars is a slow burn, filled with emotion that forces you to listen. This isn’t the album to put on when you’re with your friends trying to hype each other up for a night on the town. This is for the individual, the person who needs a soundtrack when they need to think, to remember, to feel.
1. Three Days
2. Lay Down
3. Only Love
4. Promised Land
5. If You Let Me
6. Riding Down
7. Lady By The Shore
8. Better Gone Today
9. The Question And The Cure
10. Nothing Lasts Forever
You can grab your pre-order of But I’ve Seen the Stars by clicking the link.
Expected release: October 20, 2017