Glen Hansard Flies Solo In Rhythm and Repose
Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard has been as busy as any artist over the last 20-plus years. The 42-year-old has recorded with The Frames and the Swell Season, gone on stage with Pearl Jam, and starred in the films The Commitments and Once, garnering an Academy Award for songwriting in the process. On June 19th, Hansard will venture into a new phase of his career with his first-ever solo album, the wonderful Rhythm and Repose.
Many aspects of the 11-track Rhythm and Repose retain the best qualities of Hansard’s most recent work: emotional and provocative songwriting that is primarily backed by a beautiful set of stripped-down arrangements. To help record Rhythm and Repose, Hansard used many collaborators from previous projects, including Swell Season cohort Marketa Irglova, who sings backing vocals on the tracks “You Will Become” and the mellow “What Are We Gonna Do.” Hansard also brought in E-Street saxophonist Jack Clemons (who opened for The Frames on their last North American Tour) and two other members of Springsteen’s backing brass for “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting” and “High Hope.”
By channeling shades of George Harrison, Rhythm and Repose’s second song, “Maybe Not Tonight,” is one of Hansard’s best pieces of songwriting. Interspersed with some brilliantly laid slide guitar from David Mansfield (Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn), Hansard’s lyrics inspire a bit of imagery amidst a complex story;
“I remember you were just a child, burning bright and running wild. We married on an August night, no priest, no church, just the big moon shining bright. Maybe we should be moving on, and figure what is done is done. Maybe we should break these vows, maybe not now.”
As the record progresses, Hansard follows the foreboding warnings of “The Storm, It’s Coming,” with his more romantic side on the poetic “Love Don’t Leave We Waiting.” The record’s second single, “Love Don’t Leave We Waiting” is Hansard’s plea with a lover, time, and talk to “show yourself to me.” The song is Hansard as we have come to know him recently, a bridge of The Frames’ softer side and the more upbeat of the Swell Season that may have lead him to this phase of his career. He has clearly found a groove with the acoustic styles of Once and The Swell Season, and Rhythm and Repose may be indicative of a new direction of Hansard’s career.
Hansard will be touring this July, making stops at several U.K. and Irish festivals, and opening for Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Songs solo tour. Rhythm and Repose will be released on June 19th in the U.S. as a digital download, cd, and vinyl.