Album Review: Glen Hansard – Didn’t he Ramble

Glen Hansard - Didn't he RambleYou may well recognise Glen Hansard from his role as half of the outstanding folk-rock duo The Swell Season or perhaps even his heart-rending songs and performance from Once – one of the songs, Falling Slowly even won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. But whether you knew him from before or you’re new to him now, his latest album Didn’t he Ramble is a wonderful addition to your music collection.

Didn’t he Ramble is a stunning set of compositions that are as true to Hansard’s musical nature as it is possible to be. His soft, subtle and almost understated styling’s are carried with grace, charm and charisma making this an album that can be listened to time and again. His soothing, slightly gravelled voice is perfectly suited to accompany his acoustic-infused melodies. Hansard is indeed capable of creating beautifully complex songs that sound simple, tender and easygoing. Songs such as Winning Streak at first listen sound like a gentle, softly calming blues song but listen closely and you will start to hears layers upon layers of complexity. To listen to Hansards work is akin to eating an exquisite dish, releasing another delicate flavour with every bite and always keeping you hungry for more.

It’s almost needless to say that the accompanying medleys are absolutely stunning as they are overlaid with a rich and evocative piano, soothing and tender strings and trembling drumbeats. Alone they would be astounding compositions but combined with his subtle Irish lilt it creates a marvellous blend that swirls around your mind – Celtic fiddle tunes dance between your ears conjuring up images of rolling green countryside and times long past. His music has an almost timeless quality to it that defies any given age and yet can transport you to any time and place in just a few notes.

The concept of a genre is clearly not on Hansards radar as his album constantly treads a fine line between so many of them, carving a nice out all of its own. There is always a rich vein of folk running throughout his work but then this can give over at a moments notice to a charming blues tune or a heavier rock tinged song. Then there are songs such as Lowly Deserter which stands out as a ramped up folk-rock song filled to the brim with a stunning brass section to make you swing and sway. Sounding as if rock, folk and old school jazz came together to sire a child it’s astounding in every sense and so compellingly catchy that it’s one of the songs that’s the most impossible to forget.

Glen Hansard is a truly stunning musician with a host of talents to his name and a versatile voice that is suited to jazz, blues, folk, rock and a myriad of other genres. Listening to Didn’t he Ramble it’s easy to think that there’s nothing this man can’t do. Hi soothing yet rousing compositions are evocative, tender, heartfelt and beautiful at every twist and turn; he utilises his every note from every instrument at his disposal to craft songs with a rich tapestry of layers without ever once making them feel oversaturated. Didn’t he Ramble truly is the perfect introduction to his work or quite simply a must-have for any existing fan.

Joe Knipe