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Glen Hansard adds to his impressive resume

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 23:12

Glen Hansard shot to fame after starring in the movie musical “Once” in which he played a young vacuum repair man and talented musician who finds love and inspiration in a young Czech musician he meets while performing on the street in Dublin. Little known to most of his fans, Hansard was also in “The Commitments,” a film about a bunch of Irish musicians who explore the connections between their own lives in 90s Europe and the soul music of the 60s. His musical talent may have first blossomed on the silver screen, but his albums also shine as valuable parts of the musical canon.

“Drive All Night,” Hansard’s new EP, is based off a cover he performs on the album of Bruce Springsteen’s “Drive All Night.” If you thought that an Irishman couldn’t pull off the husky voice of a Jersey boy you are a sadly mistaken soul. Hansard’s rough vocals lend themselves impeccably well to the style of Springsteen’s song and it’s easy to imagine Hansard as the Irish Springsteen. He’s joined on the track by Jack Clemons, nephew of Clarence Clemons – the E Street Band’s original saxophonist – and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. It’s a veritable celebrity get-together on the track that is both fun and a trip down memory lane for most listeners.

The other three songs on the EP, “Pennies in the Fountain,” “Renata” and “Step out of the Shadows” are smooth acoustic, folk-inspired tracks that complement “Drive All Night” and Springsteen’s signature style well. “Renata” was my personal favorite of the three remaining tracks because of its femme fatale storyline and the jazzy bass line. The smooth drums and Hansard’s soulful vocals reminded me of something you’d hear at a late-night jazz club in New York City. I could almost see the room blue with cigarette smoke as Hansard crooned, “Am I fool for sticking around?”

“Pennies in the Fountain” is a quiet and tender piece that has a magical grouping of melody of harmony. The lyrics in this songs are absolutely incredible as well. “The only way to hold onto love is with an open hand,” Hansard sings above the soft lilting acoustic plucking. The song rises and surges in the exposition, developing into a song that can be neither characterized as sad nor as happy. It’s simply pensive and thoughtful.

“Step Out of the Shadows” is a country- and folk-inspired tune that only lasts two minutes. Hansard performs a capella the entire song with a booming voice that calls the listener to “step out of the shadows.” When the song ends, and the EP as it’s the last track, you can almost hear the echoes of his powerful voice. If you like Fleet Foxes and have heard the song “Blue Ridge Mountains,” imagine it without Robin’s vocals and you’ll have a good idea about what this tracks sounds like.

Overall this is a solid EP from Hansard who already boasts an impressive resume. I can’t wait to hear another full length album from him.


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