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Strict Joy

4.4 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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  • Strict Joy
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  • The Swell Season
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  • Music From The Motion Picture Once
Total price: $37.44
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Editorial Reviews

The Swell Season are Glen Hansard (from the Irish band the Frames) and
Marketa Irglova (classically trained Czech pianist and vocalist). In 2007,
Once, a film about two people meeting and falling in love on the streets of
Dublin, became an indie phenomenon, as audiences everywhere responded
to the unassuming charm of the two leads, Glen and Marketa, and the
beautiful music they made together. On the way to going gold, the Once
soundtrack brought the Swell Season onto the stage of the Academy
Awards, where the band won the Best Original Song award, and into the
hearts of the audience and host Jon Stewart. Since then they have toured to
sold-out venues as the Swell Season, Once has become a perennial top DVD
rental and seller, and now the film is in development for a Broadway
musical to open early in 2010.
Now comes the much anticipated follow-up, Strict Joy, and from the first
notes of first track Low Rising, the musical magic audiences found in
Once is back. The band returns to map the rocky peaks and valleys of
relationships in songs like the haunting I Have Loved You Wrong, a
Marketa feature, and the driving, anthemic The Rain. A feature
documentary will make the festival rounds this fall, covering the making of
Once and Glen and Marketa s musical coming together, but in the
meantime, the beautiful songs of Strict Joy will tell their story.
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Digital Booklet: Strict Joy
Digital Booklet: Strict Joy
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 27, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Anti
  • ASIN: B002HWUU1I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,642 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brandon Pfeltz on November 4, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Being a huge Frames/Swell Season fan, I've been anticipating this album for a long while now. I can say with a sigh of relief that I'm not disappointed. I really really enjoy "Strict Joy". I'd heard a lot of the songs live, and of course they are better than the studio versions, but it's not really fair to compare.

That being said, here is what I thought:

Low Rising - This is a very strong opening number. People say that it's really Van Morrisonesque, and I suppose that I'd agree with that. Glen's voice on this track is great, and it's got a great hook. My only problem with the song, is the production. I feel like it's been bogged down with too much drone. I think that the song would be better without the brass, and with more guitar. Still, a solid and catchy opening number. 8.5/10

Feeling The Pull - This is a great song. Very folky, with an old time optimistic feel. It's catchy, nicely written, and also it's very short and sweet. It retains the energy of Low Rising and focuses it in a very different way. I do however, miss the moments when played live Glen goes into a nice falsetto and lightly strums the guitar. However, the song is still great without it, and doesn't really suffer without it's inclusion. 8.5/10

In These Arms - Beautiful song, with beautiful lyrics. Glen's vocals are hushed, which makes the song sound almost like a lullaby. The harmonies and piano bits provided by Marketa are gorgeous. The songs beauty is in its simplicity. It's very clean, dark, and yet hopeful at the same time. Fantastic tune. 9/10

The Rain - This song to me, is very Frames reminiscent. It's dark, drum driven, has a prevalent bass part, and it makes nice use of the violin.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova return with The Swell Season 2.0 and there's no let down. At first listen, there's nothing as instantly catchy as the tunes from "Once" and their debut album. If you consider the fact that the tunes from those albums represent some of the finest highlights of Glen Hansard's career with The Frames, it's completely understandable. Even if their romantic relationship didn't survive staring at fame in the face, their creative muse did. They seem to have drawn on the end of their romance and the beginning of a different kind of friendship to craft the gentle sadness and cautious optimism that runs through this album. The lion's share of the credit still goes to Hansard but he makes good use of Irglova who's a stellar musician still developing her skills as a vocalist and songwriter. If you consider her age, she should be absolutely devastating as she gains experience. That doesn't even take into account that she was born to harmonize with Glen. Their voices were absolutely made for each other. Grab the deluxe edition and you've got a full length concert and dvd where Glen's skills as a front man are absolutely dazzling. I've heard some of the between song patter before and I'm not even tired of the storytelling yet.
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Format: Audio CD
Who doesn't already know the charming story of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the creative (and for a while, romantic) couple who acted and performed in that indie film gem from Ireland, "Once"? It was a bit of an underdog triumph when they won the "Best Song" Oscar last year for "Falling Slowly", arguably the best romantic ballad of the decade. Now they follow up that success with a new album under their collective name, The Swell Season. It's a more polished affair than either their debut album or the "Once" soundtrack, but it's also much more cohesive. You won't hear Hansard's raw, shouting vocals that punctuated the songs from "Once", but that's not a problem. This is definitely a mellower affair, and the songwriting is every bit as strong and more mature. It's not as cathartic as some of the songs from "Once", but it's still quietly moving.
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Format: Audio CD
I picked up the new The Swell Season CD today, called Strict Joy. I got the deluxe edition, which has a second CD of live tracks from the last couple of tours. A total of 32 tracks - 13 make up the new CD and 19 are live tracks.

A quick glance at the writing credits of the new songs betrays that this is more of a Glen Hansard album. Marketa Irgolva only has a couple of writing credits. But her voice and piano are very present, and the harmonies are still sweet.

The album opens with a couple of good, solid upbeat tunes (Low Rising and Feeling the Pull). Not until the third song (In These Arms) do we get a song that sounds like the Once soundtrack, with Irglova harmonizing with Hansard over soft acoustic progressions. These three songs were released over the last couple of months as singles on iTunes but this is the first time I had heard any of them.

The fourth song, The Rain, comes back up in tempo with full band and impassioned relationship-based lyrics from Hansard.

In fact, relationships seem to be the theme of this album and there doesn't seem to be any effort to hide the fact that it's a very Fleetwood Mac-ish break-up album. The songs are loaded with references to the on-again off-again nature of Irglova and Hansard's relationship. Lots of songs about longing, people.

But where the Once soundtrack and The Swell Season CD are mostly softer, acoustic based discs with a couple of rockers, Strict Joy is a better balance.

Not knowing anything at all about these two (except for the movie) when I saw them the first time live, they were mostly acoustic and quiet, which is what I kind of expected. The second time through, however, Hansard had most of his band The Frames with him, and they did lots of really upbeat, rocking numbers.
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