RhythmandReposeReview

Glen Hansard is hardly a fresh name in the music world. Active with his band The Frames since the early ’90s, Hansard has long been an influential figure in the Irish rock scene. Around the same time, he came to the attention of cinema fans as a member of the ensemble cast of Alan Parker’s 1991 film The Commitments, playing — what else? — a guitarist. The intersection of film and music would reshape Hansard’s career in 2007 with the release of John Carney’s Once, in which the singer once again played a working-class Dublin musician, this time opposite Markéta Irglová. The film became an independent sensation, garnering the duo an Oscar for The Frames’ “Falling Slowly,” and leading both to their musical collaboration as The Swell Season and a much-publicized romantic relationship that has been outlasted by their musical partnership. Now, five years after the release of Once, a film that has become inextricably entangled with Hansard’s public persona, comes Rhythm and Repose, his first solo record.

The music on Rhythm and Repose holds few surprises for Hansard fans, drawing both from the earnest rock of The Frames and the moody folk stylings of The Swell Season. It lacks some of the rawness and urgency of Hansard’s work with those acts — indeed, the album’s title is very apropos. So too is its cover, a moody watercolor depicting Hansard gazing pensively into the middle distance. This is a record that finds him standing back and taking stock, reflecting on relationships past and pondering what the future might hold. Hardly revolutionary topics for a singer-songwriter, but Hansard’s well-honed songwriting chops and warm persona — the sonic embodiment of a cozy sweater on a damp Irish day — make for a thoroughly agreeable headspace to share for three quarters of an hour.

Rhythm and Repose opens with the sparse “You Will Become,” one of several tracks that feel like they could have been drawn from The Swell Season’s last record, Strict Joy. The song’s haunted quality, theme of reconstructing a relationship following romantic collapse — lyrics like “We talked about talk of a gold ring” sound like confessions drawn from real life — and the female harmony that creeps in as the song progresses all call to mind the relationship that has become an indelible part of Glen Hansard’s legend. Communing with an estranged female other half is a motif that raises its head throughout the album, most notably on “Talking With The Wolves,” which coasts mournfully on a repetitive minor key riff, and “What Are We Gonna Do,” whose dissonant strings embody the raw nerve that is inextricably wound through Hansard’s sound. This is exemplified in the singer’s lament of “some bullshit hurt that could have been helped,” and in the song’s plaintive, questioning refrain.

Not all is heartache and bleakness on Rhythm and Repose, however. Much of the album gives off a warm, ’70s-infused, country-rock vibe exemplified by tracks like “Maybe Not Tonight” and “High Hope,” the latter of which is boosted by some nicely understated banjo work. The album’s closer, “Song of Good Hope,” marries minimal instrumentation to redemptive lyrics, comparing life’s hardships to so many “rivers and streams” — again, hardly the most original of devices, but one that in Hansard’s hands rings with the truth of folk wisdom, embodying the warmth and passion that Glen Hansard brings both to his live shows and to his recorded output.

Glen Hansard Tour Dates:

09/02 – Stradbally Hall – Stradbally, Ireland
09/04 – Union Chapel – London, United Kingdom
09/14 – The Hideout – Chicago, IL
09/15 – Michigan Theater – Ann Arbor, MI
09/16 – The Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, Canada
09/18 – Berklee Performance Center – Boston, MA
09/19 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
09/20 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
09/22 – Taft Theatre – Cincinnati, OH
09/23 – Buckhead Theatre – Atlanta, GA
09/25 – The Pageant – St Louis, MO
09/26 – Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS
09/28 – Pabst Theater – Milwaukee, WI
09/29 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN
10/02 – Vogue Theatre – Vancouver, Canada
10/03 – The Moore Theatre – Seattle, WA
10/04 – McMenamins Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR
10/06 – The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA
10/18 – Kaufleuten – Zurich, Switzerland
10/19 – Muffathalle – Munich, Germany
10/21 – Arena – Vienna, Austria
10/22 – Gibson – Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
10/23 – Alhambra – Paris, France
10/24 – Koninklijk Circus – Brussels, Belgium
10/31 – The Pearl – Las Vegas, NV *
11/01 – The Pearl – Las Vegas, NV *
11/04 – Comerica Theater – Phoenix, AZ *
11/06 – Kiva Auditorium – Albuquerque, NM *
11/07 – Plaza Theatre – El Paso, TX *
11/09 – Bass Concert Hall – Austin, TX *
11/11 – Bass Concert Hall – Austin, TX *
11/12 – Jones Hall – Houston, TX *
11/13 – Jones Hall For The Performing Arts – Houston, TX *
11/15 – Music Hall Fair Park – Dallas, TX *
11/16 – Lila Cockrell Theatre – San Antonio, TX *
11/18 – Brady Theater – Tulsa, OK *
11/19 – Brady Theater – Tulsa, OK *
11/21 – Orpheum Theatre – Memphis, TN *
11/24 – Moran Theater – Jacksonville, FL *
11/25 – Moran Theater – Jacksonville, FL *
11/27 – Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre – Orlando, FL *
11/28 – Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre – Orlando, FL *
11/30 – Broward Center for the Performing Arts – Fort Lauderdale, FL *
12/01 – Broward Center for the Performing Arts – Fort Lauderdale, FL *
12/03 – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FL *
12/04 – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FL *
12/10 – Paradiso – Amsterdam, Netherlands
12/11 – Grünspan – Hamburg, Germany
12/13 – Apostel Paulus Kirche – Berlin, Germany
12/14 – Gloria – Cologne, Germany
01/30 – The Barbican – London, United Kingdom
01/31 – City Varieties – Leeds, United Kingdom
02/01 – The Sage – Central, United Kingdom
02/05 – Royal Northern College of Music – Manchester, United Kingdom

* w/ Eddie Vedder

More info on Glen Hansard