Glen Hansard: Didn't He Ramble

Irish troubadour stretches out toward soul and blues

Credit: Danny Clinch

Glen Hansard has been a steadily prolific singer-songwriter for 25 years, first with the Dublin indie-rock act the Frames and later as half of Oscar-winning folk duo the Swell Season. On his second solo effort, Hansard explores fresh sounds, from plain-spoken blues ("Wedding Ring") to traditional-minded Irish ballads ("McCormack's Wall"). The highlight: "Her Mercy," a soul showstopper that starts small and builds toward a parade of horns and cathartic pleading. Yet as the LP progresses, Hansard too often lapses into his trademark brooding melodrama — an easy fallback for a singer who's at his best, nowadays, when he's trying something new.