Glen Hansard (photo courtesy of Anti-, PR)
Between Two Shores
Inspired by his affinity for sailing, Glen Hansard named his third solo album Between Two Shores. The phrase is a reference to the midway point in a sea voyage, when no land can be seen anywhere on the horizon. Between two shores, one must cope with the realization that there can be no turning back, despite doubts of whether one can carry on further into the nothingness. It’s this imagery that mirrors the emotional tug of war that drifts into the songs on Hansard’s new album.
Between Two Shores packs the type of emotional punch that one would expect from a collection of Hansard-penned songs. This time out, the impassioned material gets buoyed by a gritty aggressiveness which adds a new dimension to Hansard’s music. This toughness is found on tracks like “Roll On Slow” and “Wheels On Fire.” Both songs get their adrenaline rush from punctuations of brass and Hansard’s fervent vocals.
“Movin’ On,” an epic showcase for Hansard the troubadour, embraces the emotions running rampant at the end of a relationship, quietly simmering, then exploding into a raging blaze. It’s hard not to occasionally draw comparisons between Hansard and fellow Celtic bard Van Morrison. Feeding this association is “Lucky Man,” which boasts the type of brass accompaniment evident on some of Morrison’s early '70s albums. Also, there’s a chillingly beautiful trumpet solo that adorns “Wreckless Heart.”
Hansard wears his emotions on his sleeve throughout Between Two Shores, and his powerful and tenacious voice is the perfect instrument for his words, especially on songs like “Time Will Be The Healer” which concludes the album. “Setting Forth” and “One Of Us Most Lose” are two more relationship songs, both gliding gorgeously and easily.
As Hansard told Rolling Stone, the seeds of Between Two Shores were planted back in 2013, when Hansard and his band were on the road supporting his first solo album, 2012’s Rhythm And Repose. Capturing newly written songs at a time when the band was playing at its peak, Hansard gathered the troops into Wilco's Loft studio in Chicago and they recorded enough material to fill a new album. But much of it remained on the shelf as Hansard eventually recorded different songs for his second solo album, 2015’s Didn’t He Ramble.
Early last year, Hansard revisited those unreleased 2013 sessions and they became the foundation for Between Two Shores. Hansard realized that the songs needed some additional work, so new lyrics were written, vocals were recorded, and additional musical touches were added over the period of a couple of weeks in France. Between Two Shores was produced by Hansard for the first time and he gives the music a clean presence which captures every subtle nuance on the record.
From his work in the Frames to his time with Markéta Irglová and the Swell Season to his flourishing solo career, Hansard has carved out a niche as a notable singer and songwriter. Between Two Shores only reinforces that fine reputation.
Listen to FUV Live in concert with Glen Hansard, recorded at the Sheen Center, on Thursday, February 1 at 8 p.m., EST on 90.7FM, streaming at WFUV.org.