Glen Hansard dropped out of school at 13 to busk on the streets of Dublin full-time, and he's spent the nearly three decades since performing in many configurations: at the head of the rock band The Frames, on stage at the Oscars with Marketa Irglova (they won in 2008 for "Falling Slowly," from Once), at innumerable concert halls and opera houses in The Swell Season (the band he formed with Irglova), in arenas with Bob Dylan, and even singing a recent duet with Bono in New York City. In other words, Hansard isn't one to wither under the not-so-hot lights of the NPR Music offices, where he and Irglova once set a record for Longest Tiny Desk Concert Ever, at seven songs in 34 minutes.
Swinging through Washington, D.C., in advance of his fine new solo album, Rhythm and Repose, Hansard stuck mostly to recent material this time around, but he still threw in a pair of surprises: "Lucia," a not-quite-finished song he sometimes trots out in concert, and one of two tunes he recorded for the Hunger Games movie, "Come Away to the Water." (Maroon 5's Adam Levine ended up recording the version on the film's soundtrack album, because life is unkind that way sometimes.)
While Rhythm and Repose often feels like a low-key '70s singer-songwriter record (think Cat Stevens or Van Morrison), this set gives Hansard a chance to flex his neck muscles a bit, as he lends blustery force to songs like "Bird of Sorrow" and "Love Don't Leave Me Waiting." But, as always, he's in complete command throughout — whether in whispers, in screams, or anywhere in between.
- "Love Don't Leave Me Waiting"
- "Bird Of Sorrow"
- "Come Away To The Water"
- "The Song Of Good Hope"
Producer: Stephen Thompson; Editor and Videographer: Michael Katzif; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by Emily Bogle/NPR