Published Apr 11, 2019Maybe all Glen Hansard has been missing in his work since winning an Oscar with Markéta Irglová (for "Falling Slowly," from 2007's wonderful film Once), was the right collaborators, or foils, to keep him from skirting too close to bland folk gentility.
Is that an over-simplification of the creative process? Probably, but these songs don't sound forced or half-baked, they often beg for the repeat button to be tapped. Melodically, he's never been more engaging or accomplished, because he opts for experimentation from the musicians around him, which include Irglová, rather than revert to the habit of strumming his acoustic guitar into oblivion when the energy fizzles.
Here, he's most effective when directly addressing the variety of personal relationships that make up a recognizable, normal life. The sibling in "Brother's Keeper"; the person he worries for on "Who's Gonna Be Your Baby Now" but in his heart of hearts knows that he can't bend their will, that's only up to them; and the tone-setting opener "I'll Be You, Be Me," the best song Hansard may ever write.
It's about the rewards and risks created by intimacy between people. A perfect metaphor for the song writing on the most focused record this Irish troubadour has ever released. (Anti)