Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Swell Season - Strict Joy

What was quite possibly the best music movie of 2008 blew our minds with a great storyline and better tunes. (And, no, we’re not talking about Mamma Mia.) Once transformed the Frames frontman Glen Hansard and little-known Czech singer and pianist Markéta Irglová into a power duo capable of capturing the purest kind of raw emotion. After winning the Oscar for Best Original Song for their striking duet, “Falling Slowly,” they had some big shoes to fill. Both musicians continue to contribute their contrasting styles to the latest album, Strict Joy, with help from five longtime collaborators. The airy vulnerability of Irglová’s performance nicely complements the intense catharsis of Hansard’s ragged wail. While “Fantasy Man” gently glides by with entrancing melodies and lilting violin, “Feeling the Pull” showcases Hansard’s more aggressive side. Sadly, nothing has as much bite as scorchers on the Once soundtrack like, “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” which could make you shake from the visceral passion. Strict Joy tries to make up for this with gorgeous ballads. It’s just a shame it doesn’t have an entrancing movie to accompany the recording process this time around.

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