Ten years ago this February, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova were honoured with the Academy Award for Best Original Song for their world famous Falling Slowly from the film ‘Once’. Since then, there’s been tours, busking, solo albums, Apollo House, musicals and, on January 19th, Hansard will release his third studio album, ‘Between Two Shores’.
Anyone who has seen Hansard live will be delighted to see a full-band line up credited on this album. ‘Between Two Shores’ is a collective mix of recordings done between gigs on the ‘Didn’t He Ramble’ Tour with a revolving cast of musicians. What was just a few studio sessions back then, has now become an album and it brilliantly captures the support of a full band, while also keeping a level of intimacy that adorns his acoustic sets.
Roll On Slow is the perfect opening track. There’s an underlying blues feel coupled with a strong electric riff and brass fillers that kicks the album in to gear with a brilliantly-rounded sound.
Hansard tones it down with the second track Why Woman – a love lament in his typical fashion with gentle vocals and a soothing melody. Synths make a debut appearance on Wheels On Fire and it brings to mind the likes of Metronomy which is unexpected, but welcome on this record. The tempo is upped again as Glen shows off his gravelly vocals and the surprising range within which he can climb.
While the brass sounds stay present on almost every track, the fabulous trumpet solo in Wreckless Heart is definitely a high point in terms of instrumentation and creates a very delicate moment on the record.
The tracks Movin’ On, Lucky Man and One of Us Must Lose all showcase Glen’s folk roots, while each beautifully encompases a new sound from the piano, strings and female harmonies. Lyrics like “I should be singing your praises/ instead of banging this drum/ I’m tired of thinking ‘bout you baby/ I’m moving on”, “anyone that sees you/ they know they know they know/ what I should have known all along just by looking” and “Give this love somewhere to go” express the conflicts and frustrations felt in the course of a failing relationship when pride and stubbornness get in the way.
The closing track, Hansard has said, is a word of advice for a friend. Gentle falsetto and a simplistic arrangement aren’t the typical traits of a show stopper but this song is all about the message and his final chorus is everything you expect from Hansard – a raw, emotive belt. “Time will be the healer once again/ Time will pick you up and let you win again”.
‘Between Two Shores’ is the first solo album which has encapsulated Hansard’s live sound and his intimate solo sound. Having taken the reins and produced it himself, the result is a beautifully crafted mix of songs, each of which are different but come together and flow seamlessly. It’s the perfect balance between ‘Didn’t He Ramble'(2015) and ‘Rhythm and Repose'(2012). 10 years on, Hansard is still making quality music which shouldn’t see him stepping off the global stage any time soon.