Review Summary: This is one record I want no repose from.
For a man who started his musical career busking on the streets of Dublin at the age of 13 after dropping out of school, Glen Hansard
hasn’t done too badly for himself. With enviable accomplishments including touring with Bob Dylan with his band The Frames, and winning an Academy Award for best original song with “Falling Slowly” (written for the film Once
), one would expect the man who earned these accolades to be some sort of musical megalomaniac. Yet with all his success, Hansard appears to remain (from various interviews and articles at least) a modest, friendly, and above all genuine
kind of guy.
It is this genuineness that permeates through his first solo record Rhythm & Repose
. Opening with the mellow “You Will Become”, with gentle acoustic guitars and subtle piano arpeggios providing a backdrop to Hansard’s lyrical repetition of the track title, it is clear that this is generally a more introvert affair than his previous work. Hansard pours bucket-loads of emotion into his lyrics, giving them a dimension that is rarely found in these days of one-hit wonder pop-folk artists, and he rarely feels the need to belt his lyrics out in order to add power to their meanings. “What Are We Gonna Do” and “Philander” are prime examples of his ability to effortlessly infuse his songs with a wide array of pain, hurt and hope.
But ***, when he does decide to let loose, it’s like a gut-punch to the soul. The climaxes of “High Hope” and “Bird of Sorrow”, where Hansard showcases his aneurysm-spawning cries, are two of the most powerful moments on the record. The slow build ups in these songs, reminiscent of his work on the Once
soundtrack, are rendered more impressive by their sparse use and rugged delivery.
With Rhythm & Repose
, Hansard has perfected his song writing technique, creating a collection of heartfelt and intimate songs that are both honest and relatable. Having stated in interviews that he only writes songs relating to events that have occurred in his life, it is easy to see how he might become lost in an egocentric mess of self-indulgent lyrics. It is a credit to Hansard’s personality then that this never appears to be the case, and throughout the entire record it feels as though he’s telling stories or offering advice but never preaching, all the while somehow managing to make us believe we’ve somehow lived or are living the events he’s describing.
Hansard’s fame and success continues to swell with the passing seasons, and producing this superb record will only add to his repertoire of achievements. Let’s just hope that releasing Rhythm & Repose
as the stage version of Once
is currently picking up 8 Tony Awards won’t necessarily mean that Glen Hansard will require a bit of (albeit well-deserved) repose himself.