Oscar and Grammy-award winner Glen Hansard returns with a full session band to present his third solo album, “Between Two Shores”. A collection of heart wrenching break up songs that takes you through a whirlpool of emotions. The album’s lack of focus, fluctuation in style, rhythm and tempo is a difficult thing to get on board with at first. According to Pitchfork, the album was influenced by his expedition from Ireland to northern Spain by boat and his ultimate love for sailing. It’s safe to say that ocean madness may well and truly be a thing, and boy did it play a big part in his relationships. All hands on deck for this one – there’s a lot of emotional baggage that needs to be dealt with.
The album sets sail with, “Roll on Slow”, featuring grungy guitar solos, heavy drum beats and a brass band. Hansard’s vocals are edgy and powerful as he sings about that restlessness of not yet being reunited with his love. It’s starts the album off with a bang, and a hopeful sense that his love is not far away.
“Why Woman” comes in slow as the second track on the album. Emotionally, it’s a step in the other direction as Glen sings of his attempt to hold on to his “darling” as she longs for a change. Although stylistically contrasting to “Roll on Slow”, Glen’s acoustic licks against the electric guitar and brass instruments are warm and his vocals are filled with beautiful vulnerability and melancholy, reflecting on his days in Swell Season.
Having starred in the film Once, his style often alludes to the poetic melodies and characteristics from the film’s album, and “Wreckless Heart” is just one example. It begins with bare acoustic guitar chords and licks against Glen’s sensitive vocals and lyrics. His voice cracks with devastation of losing his love, yet that time heals pain as it will do while he’s sailing at sea. The female vocal harmony is reserved and peaceful, yet creates a warmth to the track.
The album is full of cliché relationship remarks and he often alludes to the ocean and you’re never quite sure what stage of the relationship you might get to next. Although this is a little disconcerting as a whole, it’s the intrinsic details of the album, Hansard’s fragile vocals and smooth acoustic guitar riffs against the brass band and soothing harmonies that makes the album that “Classic Glen Hansard” album that we all know and love: a little rough on the edges, but smooth and sweet on the inside.
Words by Kat Tame