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article imageReview: Folk star Glen Hansard back with 'Didn't He Ramble'

By Adrian Peel     Sep 9, 2015 in Music
The founding member of Irish mainstays The Frames is set to release his second solo album, the follow-up to 2012's 'Rhythm and Repose.'
Having left school at 13 to boldly take his chances as a busker on the streets of Dublin, Glen Hansard has been a major player on the Irish popular music scene since forming the above mentioned Frames in 1990. After nine albums with the celebrated five-piece, he brought out his first solo album in 2012.
As one half of prominent duo The Swell Season (along with Czech singer/songwriter Markéta Irglová), the 45 year old won an Oscar for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly" off the soundtrack to the 2007 film Once, a music-based drama in which he and Irglová also starred.
Didn't He Ramble, a very intimate and personal collection of songs recorded in Dublin, New York, Chicago and France, gets underway with "Grace Under Wings," an emotive, stripped down opening number with some gorgeous piano and trumpet.
Meandering along at a delightfully breezy pace, the warm, Nick Drake-esque "Wedding Ring" is even better, emphasising once again what a fantastic man of music and letters this Irish troubadour is. His voice is achingly heartfelt on "Winning Streak," another powerful tune topped off by tasteful backing vocals and divine falsetto.
A gospel choir is used to great effect on "Her Mercy," while the star's accent shines through on the more traditional-sounding "McCormack's Wall."
After the more bombastic "Lowly Deserter," the musician who memorably played guitarist Outspan Foster in the classic film The Commitments, slows the proceedings down again on the thoughtful "Paying My Way."
The beginning of the atmospheric "My Little Ruin" almost sounds like a sparsely arranged Enya song before rising into a booming crescendo. The beautifully restrained "Just to be the One," on the other hand, sees the singer almost whispering the vocals as a delicate flute sails effortlessly over the melody.
The final track "Stay the Road" is a fitting end to an outstanding album. If you like traditional Irish music and modern day folk, you'll love this.
Produced by Thomas Bartlett (The National, Sufjan Stevens) and David Odlum (Paloma Faith, Tinariwen), Didn't He Ramble will be available to buy or download from September 18.
For more information, visit Glen Hansard's official website.
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