The Swell Season: “Strict Joy”

strict joy

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova — who nowadays go by The Swell Season, more or less — are musicians who know the power of small moments. After all, they won fame for their roles in the movie Once, a film that’s about as tiny and intimate as they come, and one of my favorite songs they’ve yet recorded is their cover of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” a small-scale, acoustic singalong that eschewed the flashy in favor of heart-on-sleeve emotions. Then again, they’re also well-versed in large gestures: Their signature song, “Falling Slowly,” takes very personal expressions and translates them into an anthem of uncommon grandiosity. And who can forget Irglova’s meek acceptance speech at the Oscars — a moment of humility and heartfelt gratitude, amidst Hollywood’s gaudiest display of glitz and razzle-dazzle.

For Strict Joy, their first post-Once collaboration — and their ANTI- Records debut — the duo seeks something of a middle ground. This is a grander production than anything they’ve ever done; There are horns and winds and plenty of production flourishes that take this music well outside the cozy little bedroom from the movie. And yet, this is also an album about little moments, small gestures, human emotions: It’s unashamedly confessional, and it uses the word “feelings” enough to make it clear that this is music about matters of the heart.

Read the rest at Stereo Subversion.

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