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BOTW Album Review: Glen Hansard – Rhythm And Repose

Just one glance at the cover artwork and I assumed we had another Iron & Wine on our hands. Whilst this wouldn’t be a particularly bad thing, Glen’s music is much more instant. Despite its calmness and lack of great depth, there isn’t much patience required to get into it and simply let it play through.

Hansard’s a very adaptable artist. His Irish roots and contribution to The Frames have allowed him to confidently swoon with his own independent work. His previous work with The Swell Season also came highly credited and well received. Several movie links also establish that Glen is a musician who understands how crucial a sense of environment and mood can be when it comes to album consistency. The songs on his debut solo release most certainly accomplish this.

Rhythm And Repose opens boldly. ‘You Will Become’ echoes heavily and harmoniously, enticing you into the record and offering a subtle pathway into his sound. The song suggests a darkness to the potential tone of the record, but this hint is rarely touched upon again. ‘Maybe Not Tonight’ follows smoothly, the swaying rhythm portraying a sound that’s caught somewhere between seaside soul and a rainy afternoon. The pace rarely changes as the record flows from track to track, and a great deal of Cat Stevens influence can be heard in ‘High Hope’. He literally sounds just like him.

By the album’s midway point the songs literally scream out with emotion vocally, alongside explosions of instruments. It’s rare to hear someone with such raw, naturally effortless vocal qualities today.

‘The Storm, It’s Coming’ provides emotive piano chords to hook your feelings and make contemplative use of them. Lovely, thoughtful chord sequences are the consistency as ‘What Are We Gonna Do’ allows Glen to fully express himself again – his words layering on top of a great instrumental structure. The album ends neatly on the purely acoustic ‘Song of Good Home’.

From just a few listens, it’s clear that much like Bon Iver, Glen Hansard is a fine example of a pure, contemporary musician – the kind of person willing to work with anybody they feel could produce great songs with, whilst at the same time being magnificent in their own right. People like this come rare when blinded by such facades of folkiness where styling a look and sound out for the sake of it is the key to success.

Rhythm And Repose is an album that contains pure talent and an artist’s emotional connection with music. It couldn’t be more aptly named.

- James Uden



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