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“Blood & Water” by Mike Mangione

Singer-songwriter Mike Mangione from Chicago, Illinois started his music career bouncing around the country in a van playing shows as a soloist. It is through this experience that Mangione defined the three elements of his music as “sonic subtlety, use of silence as an instrument, and patience.” Since then, he has been a part of two bands and several album releases. He directs his songs to specific people and considers them “dwelling places that you can enter.” In his latest album Blood & Water, he shares several important tales and messages with readers to reassure us that we share life’s struggles and we’re not alone.


If I were to pick a favorite song from the album it would honestly be the first track “Anastasia.” Right from the start we get this folky violin before the lyrics kick in and Mangione sings of begging this person to come back to him— “To save my home and daughters/Oh don’t you go.” This six-minute song is emotional and sad, but it’s filled with so many instrumental sounds and build ups that any folk lover is bound to add it to their liked songs. From dramatic piano, sliding guitar riffs, and plucky strings, this song has it all.


The “Love Ain’t No Easy Thing” intro starts with some more sliding guitar that we’re now used to. This song preaches that “Love, real love ain’t no easy thing to do.” In other words, we often see love as this perfect untouchable concept when it can be messy and demanding. I think this song goes hand in hand with the song that follows it, “Giving Up On You” because Mangione uses this track to share that he is not giving up on a relationship even when things get hard. The guitar in this one is more playful and upbeat, but the messages are similar. With lyricism like, “These days take you away from me/Well there’s a missing voice in the harmony” we get to see how much the narrator misses this person and does not want to give up on what they have together.


Get out your dancing shoes for “You Didn’t Come Here Alone.” This animated track has a fun folky melody but don’t let the instrumentals fool you. The song tells us all that life gets hard, and we struggle but there’s always people there for you and the experiences, whatever they may be, make us stronger. We can’t ignore our problems and expect them to just go away. In Mangione’s words, “You’re gonna grow old best be dealing with it” and “Though it feels you’re far from home/You didn’t come here alone.”

We bring things down a notch for the final song “Spirit Away.” This last track on the album is a ballad dedicated to Mike’s kids telling them that life gets hard but to keep persevering. The main chorus, “Life is painful/But stay strong/And for you I sing this song/It’s in love where we humans carry on” is Mangione reinforcing the idea that when things get rough, love is what keeps us together and motivates us to keep pushing forward. A beautiful message with both electric and acoustic elements to end the album with.


In this latest collection of songs, Mike Mangione shares many important lessons with listeners. Both the words and the instruments tell us things like “Better days will come” and “The world is drawn to a spirit awake.” There are also some love and heartbreak themes amongst the tracks with lyrics like “I don’t have a home without you.” It is a reminder to us that everyone faces struggles and hardship but that’s just a part of life. It sucks to be in a bad place, but we all reach the light at the end of the tunnel eventually. 

Pre-order the new album "Blood & Water" by Mike Mangione available now at iTunes.

Reviewed by Carmen Zdanis


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