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Quietly Intense Beauty -- Great Solo Album!
on June 19, 2012
Just because the Swell Season is taking a break doesn't mean you shouldn't expect its members to keep making music. Marketa Irglova released her solo album, Anar, in 2011, and now it's Glen Hansard's turn. RHYTHM AND REPOSE offers a lot of what Swell Season fans love: heartbreaking lyrics, beautiful vocal delivery, and confident instrumentation. The biggest difference with this solo release is Hansard's delivery; this record is much quieter in its tone than the past two Swell Season albums.
RHYTHM AND REPOSE is an exercise in constrained, quiet beauty. The emotional, acoustic/stringed pattern that opening track "You Will Become," begins is a throughline that the album follows from start to finish. The song "High Hope" (along with the climax of "Bird of Sorrow,") showcases Hansard's raw vocal intensity. Irglova even appears on a handful of tracks to compliment with harmonies. This album isn't great become of what it adds, but rather, it's from what it's missing. By lending itself to a minimalist style, this collection of songs sounds confident and tasteful. The penultimate track "Philander," for example, has scarce instrumentation in the verse, making Hansard's quiet verses even more effective. If anything, RHYTHM AND REPOSE is remarkably consistent - there's not a bad song in the mix. This album further solidifies Hansard's stature as one of the best songwriters currently working. Like the Swell Season's catalog, Hansard's solo outing deserves more than one listen - repeated visits to RHYTHM AND REPOSE reveal nuance that go unnoticed the first few listens. It's a great album to close your eyes and drift away in.
Recommended for fans of the Swell Season (or any of Hansard's other work), Neutral Milk Hotel, M. Ward, or Damien Rice. Highlight songs to sample: "You Will Become," "Maybe Not Tonight," and "Philander." This has been one of my favorite listens of 2012. RHYTHM AND REPOSE is a great solo album - let's hope it finds the audience it deserves.