Listening to Rhythm and Repose, the first solo album from Irish musician Glen Hansard, is like starting a new relationship. One where at first the person seems alright, but then you find out they’re totally obsessive, want to see you every day, and think you two will be together forever after a week. It’s stubborn, sad and smothering, and leaves the listener craving something completely different.
Hansard is a good musician and a great singer. He has honed his craft as a folk musician in Ireland for over 20 years, as a member of the group The Frames, and more recently as half of folk twosome The Swell Season. As a result, his voice is strong and appealing, and his music well composed and performed. He also has a plethora of seasoned musicians borrowed from a bevy of other groups accompanying him on Rhythm and Repose, which adds to the rich, refined sound of each song.
His lyrics, however, are not well written – which seems to be either a case of trying too hard, or not trying hard enough. They just don’t flow well, and his subject matter is pretty much all the same: he wants to be in love so badly that he will love whoever he’s fixated on unconditionally, forever, regardless of whether or not there is any hope that person will ever feel the same. Repeat.
Don’t get me wrong – I like a sad song every now and then. And each track in this collection is alright enough on its own, if that’s what you’re looking for. But these songs are just really depressingly sad – like talking one on one to that person who’s always the life of the party, but it turns out is actually battling some intensely bad depressive demons. If played through as a whole, this album would suck any and all positive energy out of its surrounding environment and then some.
Although the focus of the record is love and relationships, the songs won’t appeal to those happy in their current situations. And I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone going through a break up or trying to get over anyone either. It’s just a sad, desperate sounding grievance from a person who seems to have forgotten that there’s more to life than being (or not being) in love.
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