Artist: Glen Hansard
Album: Rhythm and Repose
Genre: Indie, Alt. Country, Singer Songwriter
There is not just one Glen Hansard.
Actually, when completely broken down musically, there are three unique versions of the man. For starters, Hansard’s freshman project, The Frames, is a gritty glimpse of Irish folk music mashed with emotional snarls and outbursts. Secondly, Hansard shows a much more soothing side with The Swell Season, in which he partners up with former fling Markéta Irglová to create a slightly more heartfelt and sentimental sound. Rhythm and Repose however, the latest release and first solo album from Hansard trades established comfort zones to become the undiscovered child of the great Merle Haggard.
With slide guitars spinning throughout the headphones and sad bastard storytelling resting in the liner notes, Hansard shows more Sun Records than Lisbum. While enough of the signatures from his previous projects linger like dust from attic fans for his established core of listeners to feel at home, Hansard makes no mistake in stamping a unique sound in association with his solo project. Rhythm and Repose is to Hansard what John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was to the former Beatle. It is proof he doesn’t need a little help from his friends.
Take for example the album’s opening track “You Will Become.” Handing the listener a collection of material presented from hindsight perspective, the song discusses the thought processes that we run through as we sift through the garbage of what might-have-been. The where-would-we-be-nows radiate through both the swells in the music and the lyrics Hansard produces. His tone reveals a sense of worry. In “Bird of Sorrow” and “The Storm, It’s Coming” Hansard simply opens his mouth and releases the frantic, aggressive vocals upon which he often relies. Placing his broken heart in the mix with beautiful horns and strings, the mesh of tragedy and aesthetics is flawless. These mash-ups alone make the album worth a glance.
But here’s the thing about Rhythm and Repose; anyone can relate to his sadness. Steadfast in heartache, the album lingers in the inability to put one’s ghosts to rest. However, regardless of the album’s obvious sad bastard overtones, the collection never seems to feel sorry for itself. Instead the disc resonates an awkwardness of unspoken feeling that lingers while sitting in the room with someone you suspect has planned a life that doesn’t include you. It feels like the airport hurt. Before fully knowing where he is headed, Hansard is reflecting on his past. Placing the remains in a basket, he collects his life and his thoughts, exploring his intentions and desires to move forward. Hidden deep in the album is the realization that someday everything will be okay.
Summarized, fans of his previous works will not be disappointed by this current project. More importantly however is the fact that anyone who has ever felt left behind in life by someone will fall deeply into this stunning and breathtaking album. Glen Hansard has captured the words and feelings we all hope that we never have to say.