If you’re familiar with Glen Hansard‘s earlier works – either as The Frames, The Swell Season, or just on his todd – rambling isn’t a word you’d associate with him (unless you talk about his outdoor pursuits, but we can’t claim to much know about those). If anything, his folk stylings have been pointed, searingly so, as layers slowly strip away with every successive release and Hansard still finds ways to serve new pearls of honesty.
Didn’t He Ramble, however, is something we might say after listening to Hansard’s new record. “There’ll be no more running round for me,” Hansard sings on opening track Grace Beneath The Pines, and musically that certainly seems the case. Hansard has settled in a comfortable rhythm, his structures largely traditional as he channels Dylan on Wedding Ring and adds lashings of other troubadours throughout.
Maybe that’s what jars us about his new record. Hansard has always been fiercely independent, an artist recognisable the moment a single note leaves his breath. That feeling seems clouded here, partly due to the over-production on songs like Winning Streak and brass-heavy Lowly Deserter that lack the urgency of, say, a Bird of Sorrow.
But endearing he remains, and that sincerity shines through on heartfelt renditions of Her Mercy and album standouts My Little Ruin (which properly sounds like a Hansard track) and Paying My Way. There’s still that pointed songwriting present even if Hansard feels like he’s wanting to transition into a different, more Americana-leaning artist. It just takes a fair bit of rambling to find those beauty spots.
Didn’t He Ramble by Glen Hansard can be ordered here.