Glen Hansard – “Don’t Settle”
Oh hey, 2019 represent! Sometimes a song is just too brilliant; too immediately impactful and emotionally profound to be placed on the back burner. “Don’t Settle” falls into this category – a track that defines Hansard’s superb record This Wild Willing in such a way that putting off recognition is sheer folly. This song has it all – from the sullen, Nick Cave reminiscent piano balladry early on to the brass horns that join the mix about halfway through – and then finally to the song’s emotional pinnacle and subsequent cathartic release of energy, where Hansard shouts into the surrounding emptiness like Roger Waters on ‘In The Flesh.’ It’s this transcendent moment where he doesn’t sound much like a folk artist at all…nope, two songs in to This Wild Willing, Glen Hansard is more like a modern day rock hero.
The track takes on even greater magnitude in the context of Hansard’s broader discography. Understanding that he’s been a humble folk troubadour a la Damien Rice for most of his career helps illuminate exactly why his launching into emotionally wrought shouts should hit you like a freight train. “Don’t Settle”, when it reaches this apex, is a gorgeous, epic, experimental indie-rock tour de force – and quite frankly one that came out of left field. It’s an evolution from singer-songwriter to something more along the lines of post-folk – and the aftershocks of this moment ripple throughout This Wild Willing like a rock dropped into a still pond…because that’s basically what “Don’t Settle” is – a stone being cast into his typically quiet, understated approach. When we talk about transformative moments, this is the kind of song we mean…and that I think most of us are always secretly hoping for growth this measurable – this impressive – from our favorite artists. It’s a rare occurrence, but one that is ever so rewarding.