By Jack Sharkey, February 23, 2018

 

Front to Back Album Review: Glen Hansard - Between Two Shores

  • Released: January 19, 2018
  • Label: Anti-
  • Producer: Glen Hansard

 

Five out of Five Play Buttons

   

Hipsters! Middle-agers! Gen-Xers! Baby Boomers with some hearing left! Rockers! Mopers! Music snobs! Music egalitarians! Millennials! Unite and rejoice in the throes of a fabulous set of music – Glen Hansard’s Between Two Shores.

 

Dublin native Glen Hansard has been a fixture on the music scene for over a quarter-century. Fans of the Frames know his work intimately and fans of the 1991 film The Commitments will remember Hansard as the title band’s surly guitar player, but to me, this record is the culmination of a life well spent chasing his muse. Between Two Shores is a collection of tunes Hansard had partially recorded in 2013 and at the urging of a friend revisited last year. He cut the final vocal tracks to the demos and the result is an absolutely stunning collection of music.

Glen Hansard - Between Two Shores

 

There’s something about doing album reviews that automatically makes one look for faults in an effort to let everyone know how smart the reviewer is. But I’m of the mind that if you don’t like this album we may not be able to be friends anymore – it’s that good. I cannot think of a reason why this will not remain my favorite album of 2018. Lush horns, beautiful production, plaintive and earnest songs sung by a guy who deftly speaks emotion, and stellar musicians working their way through seamless arrangements all add up to make this a wonderful musical experience.

 

As a singer, he’s somewhere north of Tom Waits approaching Springsteen, but that’s the beauty of his art – it’s real, it hurts, it’s joyful. Hansard’s vocals in the acoustic track  Movin’ On are in your face, sorrowful and time-worn – in short they are beautiful and beautifully recorded. If I could only listen to one song for the next few months as some sort of cosmic punishment, hands done it would be the plaintive Your Heart's Not In It, but I'd happily take any of the other ten tracks should my punisher attempt to make my life harder than it has to be.

 

I don't get goosebumps and I the hair on the back of my neck doesn't stand up when I hear something, which speaks more to my jaded cynicism than it does to my love of music, but the trumpet solo in Wreckless Heart actually caused both phenomena the first time I heard it. Among other sonic gems are the bass in Why Woman, but we the listener do ourselves a disservice by focusing only on the technical - this is a human record filled with all of the things that make us human, for better or worse. The fact that it sounds great is just a nice benefit.

 

I’ll keep this short and to the point – it’s going to take a really special album to knock this one off the pedestal I have just placed it on. Thank you Glen Hansard for making a really special record.

 

Listened on LS50W via 44.1/16 FLAC streamed from Roon.