Style: Slow-burning balladry; compare to The Swell Season, Josh Ritter, Ray LaMontagne
Top tracks: "Love Don't Leave Me Waiting," "High Hope," "Maybe Not Tonight"
The first solo album from the highly accomplished Hansard (The Frames, The Swell Season and Once) smolders with Irish soul but runs heavy on repose. Hansard's voice and lyrics pack power even in restraint as he insightfully deals with love's raw uncertainties, tangled losses, and redemptive hopes. Standouts "Love Don't Leave Me Waiting" and "High Hope" soar with a Van Morrison-like glow, and "Bird of Sorrow" breaks the cathartic plane. Unfortunately the collection too often simmers without breaking into the boil that Hansard can unleash. Still a deeper listen buoys the heart in the tension between what is and what might be. (Note: "What Are We Gonna Do" includes a single profanity.)1