Music - Glen HansardHe sure did ramble and so too it seems did his musical imagination. Quite literally the Ballymun native has been cropping up here there and everywhere; from writing and performing for The Hunger Games soundtrack to touring with Eddie Vedder and the likes. Since the release of his 2012 album ‘Rhythm and Repose’ he has been exploring his own artistic style and making a name for himself on the other side of the Atlantic. All this is very evident in his latest project ‘Didn’t He Ramble’. He explores a style of song-writing that is recognisable as quite distinctly American and some of his songs have a country-western edge such as ‘Winning Streak’ and ‘Wedding Ring’.

Hansard’s style has always been one that is intimate, subdued and mature sounding but this next album takes this to a new level. The opening track ‘Grace Beneath the Pines’ exemplifies this, with lyrics about acceptance and changing of ways all the while accompanied by a soft reverberating droning string set. The whole collection is one that oozes comfort upon the listener, each track expressing passionate yet triumphant feelings while his voice resonates throughout like the soft rasping of a saw on wood. He fills the background of his songs with sometimes soft minimalistic guitar notes and other times loud and booming melodies with brass, synth and string pieces. Despite similarities between the tracks and keeping with the theme of rambling he jumps from organic sounds to more modern tunes and back again. He even throws in a very traditional Irish piece in ‘McCormack’s Wall’ and then employs harmonic brass sections for ‘Just to be the One’ to produce two very different sounding tracks with Hansard’s distinct voice the only common denominator.

This album serves to demonstrate the breadth of his talent and his varied styles of song-writing. It is not so much a disjointed selection of unrelated songs but more a celebration of his growth and maturity in developing his sound. At 45, he is finally secure and comfortable in his musical abilities and is not afraid to play around and experiment. While he hasn’t had a hugely popular hit since ‘Falling Slowly’ he seems to be enjoying touring, writing music for himself not for the charts and collaborating with different artists and projects. He remains true to himself and his honest style of music-making that he is known and loved for.

‘Didn’t He Ramble’ is available now on Spotify, iTunes and in stores.

Author: Kevin O’Reilly