Fabulous album, very beautiful! The Swell Season is a master peace of two great artists. Very good sound, also. In some country's like Portugal, Glen Hansard is not well known and that is terrible. Well, I am very happy with the CD!
Recorded in six days during time away from his multi-platinum Irish band the Frames, The Swell Season - named after a book by Czech writer Josef Skvorecky - is in many ways a companion piece to the band's recent album, The Cost.
Fine though that album was, this is plainly a case of the pencil sketches outclassing the oil paintings. The two albums do share two songs in common, the surging, poignant Falling Slowly and the rather less memorable When Your Mind's Made Up - and it's immediately apparent that these spare, acoustic arrangements serve the emotional content more powerfully than the firepower of a full band.
That may because the subject matter of these songs is highly personal, recording the death throes of love - or it may simply betoken the general cultural movement away from the sturm und drang of band performances in favour of more simple and intimate acoustic settings. Hansard has largely abandoned his rock star identity in his native Ireland in favour of a simpler life in Prague, and here he collaborates with Czech singer and pianist Markéta Irglová and string players Marja Tuhkanen and Bertrand Galen. It's not surprising to learn that Brian Eno told Hansard to release the album just as it was, raw and rough-mixed.
The standout track here is perhaps the simplest of all. Leave begins with Hansard's voice and guitar, a low-key farewell to a departing lover which accelerates into a performance of untrammelled passion so violent it leaves the listener in shock. Almost as powerful is The Moon, a Radiohead-esque hymn to silence which provides, along with the frozen finality of Alone Apart, the last movement in this romantic tragedy.
The Swell Season is Glen Hansard, lead singer of the frames, first "solo" venture, this album was a collaboration between himself and Marketa Irglova a Czech singer. The title "the swell season" was taken from the book of the same name by Josef Skvorecky the czech writer, who Hansard is a devoted fan, he sent the album to Brian Eno who had been a distant adviser for sometime, he had been trying to get him to record the frames for years, he got back to him on hearing it and advised they do no more more mixing and fixes, that it sounded finished to him. so they left it, raw and roughly mixed. And what are the results.....?
Well Its hard not to draw comparisons to Damien Rice's O,its a deeply personal record, the lyrics for the most part paint the full spectrum of the ups and downs of falling in love and breaking up. I think its fair to say that the lows are covered with more depth(sorry, terrible pun).
Marketa Irglova might as well be Lisa Hannigan, she has that rare lovely gentle voice and it compliments Hansards rough passionate voice perfectly. She adds some lovely subtle touches on piano aswell as her own track piano solo track, the Swell Season. THe tracks are also coloured by strings,sparingly, just as in Rices solo effort.
But its HAnsards lyrics and delivery that stand out, theres not a bad song here, every one has something distinct but personally "Sleeping", "This Low" and "Leave" are my stand out tracks, Lyrics like "And how in the world did you come, to be such a lazy love" really will break the heart.
Its a measure of Hansards talent that given the bare minimum of resources and without thinking much about it, hes made a record that eclipses any album hes made with the Frames. If you remotely enjoyed Damien Rices O, I guarentee you will like this too!
Bought this after I had seen the film on TV. This album is for you if you look for uncluttered, captivating music with distinctive voices that make you feel all the emotion that has gone into these works of art.
If you loved the 'Once' soundtrack, you will also love this album. Although some of the tracks are repeats from the movie soundtrack, they are the best ones and worthy of many plays. Once again, the mix of the two vocals works extremely well but what gets to me every time is the emotion. Few people can deliver a song with the amount of passion that Glen Hansford can.