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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
The Swell Season

Rating: 9/10 ?

June 6, 2007
Songs from Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's album The Swell Season may sound familiar. Some of the songs have appeared on The Frames' latest release, The Cost, as well as on the soundtrack to the indie film Once, and just like that film's characters The Swell Season unravels like a platonic love affair between two lonely friends. The album was released by Overcoat last year, but as Once has garnered more attention, so have the songs.

Hansard is best known as the vocalist/guitarist/songwriter for The Frames while Irglova is a lesser known Czech pianist. The songs could be succinctly described as simple acoustic ballads; as boring and cliché as that may sound for some people, the songs are also powerful vignettes. They are full of intertwining melodies, thoughtful hooks and delicate playing for nearly every instrument - vocals (Hansard and Irglova), piano (Irglova), acoustic guitar (Hansard), violin (Marja Tuhkanen) and cello (Bertrand Galen).

Compared to Hansard's work with The Frames, The Swell Season's songs are quieter and less theatrical - often times Hansard and Irglova's voices rarely rise above a whisper - but no less emotional.

"Falling Slowly" (which also appears slightly altered on The Cost) is the album's instant single. It has a simple guitar and piano melody just barely overpowered by Hansard and Irglova singing, "take this sinking boat and point it home/we've still got time."

Being lost and struggling to find direction is a theme throughout The Swell Season. In "Drown Out," they sing amid a pretty cello riff, "and we drive away and head for south/ we found our way and blocked it out."

The quiet songs often build to emotional climaxes, such as when Hansard insists "you're moving too fast for me/and I can't keep up with you" in "Lies," and the beautiful cacophony that ends "When Your Minds Made Up."

In the final song, "Alone Apart," Irglova quietly sings, "We're sailing, sailing every night/ We're drifting, drifting alone apart." Contrary to Irglova's lyrical assertions to the contrary, The Swell Season is hardly aimless, and if you allow yourself to get lost with Hansard and Irglova as your guides, you're bound to hear something special.

Reviewed by Sheila Burt
A contributing writer for LAS based near Chicago, Illinois.

See other reviews by Sheila Burt



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