Glen Hansard
This Wild Willing
Anti Records

Songs of Impeccable Guile and Craft

Glen Hansard has been part of my life in various guises since 1991 when he popped up as Outspan in Alan Parker’s film The Commitments. Since then, whether it be as The Frames, The Swell Season or under his own name, his music has been a constant in my life, sound tracking the good times and some of the harder times too..
What first struck me about this album even before I played it was how long some of the songs were with 5 of the 12 songs clocking in at over 6 minutes and a couple of those well over 7 minutes long.
The press release references “classically trained Iranian musicians” and “spirit of openness to invention and experimentation” so I have to admit I wondered if this was a bit of change of direction for Glen, but I had nothing to fear, it is both of those things but is also very much a Glen Hansard Album and maybe, in my opinion, his best work yet.
It opens with the lead track from the album I’ll Be You, Be Me, which starts with Glen quietly singing. As the song slowly builds the lyrics become stronger and the music grows behind the song until we are hit with wall of sound and distortion that engulfs the vocals and then leaves us as suddenly as it arrived.
This format is repeated on the first 3 tracks of the album which gives them a real sense of grandeur and if I was to reference a track from The Waterboys these tracks are what Mike Scott sang about when he wrote ‘Big Music’. It’s not about being loud it’s the sheer scale of the songs, the layers of sound that build as the songs develop and surround you as you listen to them. The opening of the album demands your attention, this certainly isn’t background music. Those opening tracks make you stop what you are doing and listen, and I can find no higher compliment for music than that.
After that first aural assault the album settles into a more familiar space but this doesn’t mean the quality lessens, as this album is beautifully crafted with touches of light and shade sprinkled across each track.
I must mention my favourites, Brother’s Keeper and Fool’s Game which ends with the most beautiful of female vocals leaving you desperate for more.
This album feels like Glen is pushing himself in new directions, expanding his songs that is often the highlight of his live shows, whilst maintaining the music that his fans know and love, a hard-balancing act but one he has done with impeccable guile and craft on this album.

Review courtesy RMHQ Friend Mr Andy Brown esq.

Released 12th April

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