Glen Hansard announces third album

Glen Hansard

Marking his third solo album, singer-songwriter Glen Hansard will release Between Two Shores on January 19 via Anti-. Following up 2015’s GRAMMY nominated Didn’t He Ramble, and his 2012 solo debut Rhythm And Repose, the ten-track collection was produced by Hansard himself for the first time. The culmination of more than six years of writing and recording, Between Two Shores came together in only a matter of weeks.

This past March, Hansard booked himself time at Black Box Studios in France with the original idea of taking inventory of his songbook. Working again with former Frames bandmate and producer David Odlum, Hansard was in search of a direction for his next record.  As he trove through his previous sessions, various ideas and home recordings, a sketch of an unplanned record began to take shape.

The aptly titled ‘Setting Forth’ became the catalyst for the direction Hansard hoped to achieve with Between Two Shores.  Recorded with drummer extraordinaire Brian Blade and members of his Fellowship Band the song tackles themes of self-doubt in a time when it’s impossible not to be riddled with uncertainty.  The album’s lead track ‘Time Will Be The Healer’ is a hopeful plea to a forlorn lover that also speaks to the way forward in the current social climate.  Indeed, it would be impossible not to in some way address the politics of the day, which Hansard does in ‘Wheels On Fire’ and its refrain of “We will overcome!”

While the record truly came together in France, Between Two Shores features material captured in New York and Chicago with a revolving cast of musicians.  In addition to Blade, the record also features Thomas Bartlett, Brad Albetta and Rob Moose who appeared on much of Rhythm And Repose. However it’s Glen’s touring band – Joseph Doyle, Rob Bochnik, Graham Hopkins, Justin Carroll, Michael Buckley, Ronan Dooney and Curtis Fowlkes – that feature most prominently and take center stage on tracks like the upbeat E Street shuffle of ‘Roll On Slow’ and the Van-tastic ‘Why Woman’.

The album’s title comes from Hansard’s ongoing love of sailing and the sea.  When one is equal distance between their starting point and their destination they are in essence “between two shores.”  A less than ideal time to wonder whether you should turn back or continue on, but a thought that inevitably rears its head.

With Between Two Shores Glen Hansard has managed to capture that feeling of the big soulful sound of his large touring band while still retaining the intimate introspective nature of his acoustic shows.  To which way the wind will blow on his next record remains to be seen.

Glen Hansard is a founding member of The Frames who celebrated 25 years as a band in 2015. He is one half of The Swell Season, which also features pianist Marketa Irglova.  Together in 2007 they wrote the music for and starred in the movie Once.  The song ‘Falling Slowly’ from the film was awarded the Academy Award for Best Original song.  In 2013 the film was adapted for Broadway as Once, The Musical, winning eight Tony Awards including the top musical prize itself and an Olivier award in London for outstanding achievement in music.

Artist’s website:

‘Time Will Be The Healer’ – live:

CIARA SIDINE – Unbroken Line (own label)

Unbroken LineIt’s been six years since the Irish singer-songwriter and book editor released her debut, but she’s finally got round to a second, one drawing an Americana and country blues, filtered through her Gaelic heritage and featuring the stunning guitar work of Conor Brady. Thematically, it balances with the pointedly and powerfully political and the poignantly personal, opening with ‘Finest Flower’, an Appalachian-tinged number written in honour and memory of the many women who fell victim to the Magdalene Laundries and the Mother and Baby Homes, inspired by the testimony of the survivors.

The twin themes of feminism and the church embodied there are also visited individually. Featuring Justin Carroll on Hammond, ‘Let The Rain Fall’ is Memphis soul influenced song about the church’s failure to take responsibility for its child abuse while ‘Trouble Come Find Me’ is a sparse brooding traditional sounding blues about the struggle for women’s bodily autonomy. On a similar traditional note, she also offers a gender recasting with a bluesily raw ‘Woman of Constant Sorrow’ that directs its gaze at the struggles of women in Irish society then and now. However, as the love and equality themed blues ‘Lemme Drive Your Train’ shows, she can be playful too while, at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, there’s the slow sway soul of ‘River Road’ with its regrets of bridges burned .

Musically, the album also follows a winding path, from the sloping blues of ‘2 Hard 2 Get To Heaven’ and the late night jazzy vibe of ‘Watching The Dark’ where she reminds me of Bonnie Koloc to the country gospel driving train rhythm of ‘Wooden Bridge’ and the Van Morrison feel of ‘Take Me With You’, while, harmonising with Michelle Considine and Marty Mullally, the set closes in simple acoustic style with the lilting, lovely American folksiness of ‘Little Bird Song’.

Again boosted by the solid backing vocals, Carroll again on organ, the Dylan-inspired reflective dustbowl country title track, a song about re-establishing sustaining connections with its images of fading small towns, is a particular standout, conjuring a soulful Emmylou Harris as she sings how “One side tells you a dime’s a dollar, the other sells somebody’s dollar for a dime.” The album inspired Joseph O’Connor, Sinead’s brother, to write a poem entitled Sidine Street, capturing the world she inhabits and the ghosts of those who share it. One line goes, “I don’t want to be alone, I want to hear her music.” You need to as well.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website:

‘Unbroken Line’ – live: