Release date: 10/26/09
Sounds like: Sarah McLaughlin, Joshua Radin, Bob Dylan
Nearly two years removed since being ushered offstage during her Oscar acceptance speech, Marketa Irglova returns with songwriting companion Glen Hansard with a vengeance, no matter how romantic it may be.
After the duo’s debut performance in the 2007 flick “Once,” writing original songs for the motion picture, “Hansard and Irglova,” under the name The Swell Season, return with their follow up “Strict Joy” — a fitting name for what the album implies.
The album’s opening track, “Low Rising,” finds Hansard painting the scene of a make-up session between lovers in a very Bob Dylanesque way. The song is optimistic in all the right ways, and despite the depressing subject matter, it gives a chin up to the rest of the album.
“In These Arms” sits as the first track that begins to capitalize on the romanticism that made listeners fall in love with the foreign duo. The song gives the feeling of a snowy day by a fire with a loved one, generously describing the scenario: “Maybe I was born to hold you in these arms.”
Irglova stands out in her own ways on the album as a multi-instrumentalist and as lead vocalist on “Fantasy Man.” On the track, listeners find Irglova singing about love that may never be found with the line, “Fantasy man you are always one step ahead of me.”
Though heart-achingly good from track to track, the album is monotonous in tempo, unlike their previous work. However, The Swell Season seems to be content with monotony so long as getting their point across of love gone right and wrong.
Grab a cup of hot chocolate, start a fire and get cozy. The Swell Season has found their niche and maybe another Oscar nomination.
Music reviewer Ian Mahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.