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Glen Hansard: Didn’t He Ramble

Blockbusting Irish rover finds his solo voice.

You can’t always get a point across with overblown posturing, or by bellowing bug-eyed through a mic. Anyone who’s seen the blockbusting Commitments- and Once-star Glen Hansard live knows this, as the modern-day Irish troubadour is wont to abandon amplification entirely and turn up the emotion acoustically or a cappella, even in venues such as The Barbican.

Didn’t He Ramble is teeming with quietly stirring stuff ripe for this sort of interpretation and a leap on from 2012’s introverted break-up memoir Rhythm And Repose.

In line with inspirations Van Morrison and The Band, Hansard’s take on folk, blues and soul music is honest and poetic, testified in a characteristic whisper-to-a-roar confessional wail. But it’s the string and brass arrangements that makes Ramble so sublime, particularly the Stones-esque raw gospel balladry of Her Mercy, My Little Ruin and the almost (early) Chicago-like Just To Be The One.

“One would hope that through all of this that you find your voice,” Hansard says of his emotional, spiritual and musical journey to complete this record. He’s succeeded. Ramble on, indeed.

Jo Kendall

Embracing weird, wild and wonderful sounds, Prog's Associate Editor Jo's also a Classic Rock columnist, an avid tea-drinker and cupcake fancier.