Album Review: Glen Hansard’s ‘Rhythm and Repose’
My Nguyen June 14, 2012
The heavy shading of longing and wistfulness found on Glen Handsard’s first solo endeavor, titled, Rhythm and Repose, retains the intensity of his previous recordings, but as far as intensity goes, this album is considerably mellower. Ingrained with touches of patient and tough sounding cathartic songs, Rhythm and Repose is an album that talks about temperamental love and the damaged outlook that is oftentimes the result.
Previously of the Irish band, The Frames, the Dublin singer was also the male lead for the 2006 indie feature film, Once, a full length feature that he co-starred with Czech-actress, Marketa Irglova. The love story that was portrayed onscreen soon led to an off-screen romance, and the two began collaborating together on their musical project, called, The Swell Season, after, together, winning an Academy award for Falling Slowly, a theme song off the Once soundtrack. Though their romance has fizzled over the course of The Swell Season’s first tour – their tumultuous relationship pressured to a close by post-Oscar success, which was documented in the movie, also titled, The Swell Season – they remain close musical collaborators in the truest sense. Irglova’s soft, crystalline vocals can also be found in this record along with other collaborators that include Cristin Milioti (Once, The Musical), Sam Amidon, and Aida Shahghasemi (Marketa Irglova touring band).
Hansard, who is known for his intense vocals in previous recordings, rages in the best way possible about unrequited love, but, here, we get a sense that he is slowing down, and has become more introspective about his work. Through these songs still are grounded in the same abrasive, sorrow-filled sounds of unreturned love, these emotions are more quietly expressed. We see instead a more drawn album, closer to retired than bombastic. Instead of getting ready to combust with too many emotions, Hansard sounds more like smoldering flames. In that way, Rhythm and Repose is a contained album with a bereaved quality that seems to point to the aftermath of something that has whittled him down to these sparse arrangements.
In the album, there is no compromising in love, and more often than not, the person penning these songs has reached a stalemate with his feelings. But what Hansard does in Rhythm and Repose allows breathing room for his listeners. Instead of giving us overly taut vocalizations about silted love, these tracks are more contemplative and reflective of these discussed woe-bygones. By attaching accessibility to these sometimes hard to swallow ballads, Hansard’s songwriting abilities gives us more time to reflect quietly in repose, rather than be overwhelmed by overwrought emotions.
Photo courtesy of Matt Fricovsky ::: www.mattfricovsky.com via Flickr.