Between Two Shores is the latest release from the masterful hands of Once star Glen Hansard. It’s not actually been too long since his last critically acclaimed album hit the shelves but even in a short space of time Hansard is so inspired in his work that he has managed to cram and inordinate amount of time and effort in to what has become his latest and arguably greatest creation.
As Between Two Shores rumbles to life you are reminded that Hansard’s rich, earnest and softly gravelled voice are brought back to life with all of the warmth of a crackling log fire in winter. A the album progresses it never strays from this trend as it bathes you in a warm and flickering sentiment that no other album can compare to. One of the truly marvellous things about Hansard and his work is his ability to make his every move feel natural and effortless when really his every musical move is a deep, complex and finely honed note that is perfectly aligned to compliment his progression. Hansard has a habit of outgrowing his own surroundings, his work swells and grows, gradually expanding and dominating all that is around it. The result is an album that will exceed even the highest expectations, filled with a versatile body of songs that veer wildly between genres, burning folk and jazz together and shovelling rock on top. It’s a heady and daring blend that pays off for him as it carves him an ever-increasing niche within the industry.
There is an aspect to Hansard’s music that feels almost evolutionary. It is one of the attributes that makes his music such an unrelenting pleasure to listen to. As refreshing as a breath of cool spring air, his complex fusions belie all that you have come to expect from folk music and instead gives it a timeless and often tender twist. Songs such as Ride That River are gently fuelled by a soft jazz melody that floats throughout and becomes the primary focus of the piece. This careful fusion allows Hansard the scope to try his hand across a variety of mediums from jazz and gospel up to the rocked up attributes of his opening track Roll on Slow which packs as much of a punch as any boxer. It is this rich musical and cultural versatility that allows Hansard to transcend so many blurred lines and create a sound that is totally inimitable.
Lead by a voice that seems to crackle and burn like embers, Between Two Shores utilises Hansard’s patented vocals to their fullest extent. The album stretches his range and encourages a vibrant experimental vein to be sent coursing through his work. His whisky tinged voice is readily capable of soft and gentle melodies that touch upon the soul as softly as the wings of a butterfly while simultaneously allowing him to reach dizzying new heights as he unleashes all he has to the world, his voice erupting with all the power and force of a volcano; grandiose and even raucous and yet calmingly beautiful to see.
Between Two Shores is a truly mesmerising piece of work that encapsulates Hansard’s ever expanding range and dexterous and powerful musical abilities. Layered with organs and brass his songs have a rich and almost giddy feel to them at times as you and whisked away on a whirlwind tour of the history of music as told by a contemporary folk artist. The result is an album that washes over you, leaving you feeling relaxed and invigorated; a truly inspirational collection of songs from a man with the world at his fingertips.
Pre-order Between Two Shores at www.glenhansardmusic.com
Glen Hansard Ireland Tour Dates:
12/12 Galway, IE Town Hall Theatre
12/13 Clonakilty, IE De Barra’s
12/15 Belfast, IE Ulster Hall
12/17 Dublin, IE Vicar Street
12/18 Dublin, IE Vicar Street
2018 European Tour:
2/09 London, UK Royal Festival Hall
2/10 Utrecht, NL Tivoli Vredenburg
2/11 Utrecht, NL Tivoli Ronda
2/13 Brussels, BE Ancienne Belgique
2/14 Paris, FR Le Trianon
2/16 Zurich, CH Volkshaus
2/18 Vienna, AU Gasometer
2/20 Berlin, DE Admiralpalast
2/21 Berlin, DE Admiralpalast
2/23 Prague, CZ Divaldi DVA
2/25 Brno, CZ Sono Centrum
Review by Joe Knipe