The appropriately titled ‘Didn’t He Ramble’ sees singer Glen Hansard adding a hearty drop of Americana to his Irish roots
rish singer Glen Hansard was more than two decades into his career when he released his solo debut, 2012’s Rhythm And Repose. The founder of Dublin rockers The Frames, as well as one half of Oscar-winning duo The Swell Season, he is also a successful actor having appeared in films such as The Commitments and Once. Didn’t He Ramble finds him in full troubadour mood, blending the folk music of his homeland with his distinctive take on Americana.
The atmospheric Grace Beneath The Pines rises like the dawning of a rain filled day; Hansard’s inconsolable refrain of “I’ll get through this” is ominously unconvincing. This overarching sense of recrimination and struggle percolates through each song. Thankfully, there is also a feeling of resistance, such as on the gentle ballad Wedding Ring, the poignant Winning Streak and the triumphant stomp of Lowly Deserter.
Recorded in New York, Dublin, Chicago and France, this is an album which doesn’t feel anchored to any particular place. McCormack’s Wall and Lowly Deserter have the most distinctly Irish feel to them and provide the record’s highlights – the former in particular features an evocative fiddle solo which transports you across the Irish Sea. A whole album of similar songs might have been as affecting as King Creosote’s From Scotland With Love, but Hansard would rather roam far and wide.
Whether or not there is room for improvement is a preposterous question. Hansard has delivered a haunting album of heavyweight songwriting, and that’s more than enough.
Verdict: Like a blended whiskey, rich with distinctive flavours