Glen Hansard (photo by Danny Clinch, PR)
Didn’t He Ramble
Irish troubadour Glen Hansard is a thoughtful, passionate artist with a red-hot creative fire that is very evident in his music. Whether he’s with the Frames, the Swell Season (his partnership with Markéta Irglová), or on his solo recordings, he is driven by a desire to be truthful and honest with his fans and himself. The latest chapter for Hansard is his second solo album, Didn’t He Ramble, the followup to 2012’s Rhythm and Repose. It took three years and several EPs later, but Hansard is back.
Didn’t He Ramble finds the singer and songwriter as intense as always. But, it’s the content of Hansard's songs that is somewhat different. This time, his themes steer away from romantic love, usually a common subject for him, and out towards his family and friends. Each song on Didn’t He Ramble is like a prayer of hope, sympathy, healing, and good fortune.
The album was recorded in numerous locations, including Wilco’s studio, the Loft, in Chicago and Black Box Studio in France. Additional sessions took place in New York and Dublin. Despite this cross-Atlantic journeying, there’s a definite cohesiveness to the record, reflecting Hansard’s singular vision to be as candid as possible. Every word, melody and chord is carefully chosen to express exactly what Hansard wants the listener to feel.
“Grace Beneath The Pines,” which opens the album, is a hopeful hymn, gently sweetened with strings. “Winning Streak,” an ode of encouragement, echoes Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.”
“McCormack’s Wall,” buoyed by Celtic fiddles, is a spirited Irish folk song while Hansard’s Americana-leaning side reveals itself on the haunted “Lowly Deserter.” Longtime live favorite “Her Mercy” is an impassioned bit of soul and an inspired anthem, invigorated by horns, a gospel choir, and Hansard’s emotional vocals.
There are few songwriters who possess Hansard’s relentless introspection, but Didn’t He Ramble is far more than solitary self-examination. This restless, driven musician has unearthed a more outward-looking perspective here, embracing friends, foes, family, and former lovers. But no matter which direction he chooses, either solo or surrounded by bandmates, Hansard’s ferocious momentum is a wonder to behold.