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AUDIO JUNKIE: Songs of heartbreak and the sea

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Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard is showing no signs of slowing down. While touring incessantly behind his last release “Didn’t He Ramble,” Hansard dropped the brand new solo record “Between Two Shores.”

Glen Hansard (mb.com.ph)

Glen Hansard

The title will make sense to you if you follow him on social media. It’s either he’s opening a show for Eddie Vedder all over Europe, or playing a duet with Bruce Springsteen in America, or he’s back in his hometown in Ireland headlining a show at popular Vicar street. Besides the music, shuttling here, there and everywhere seems to be norm for this guy.

But the title is literal in its origins. The 47-year old, Oscar-winning musician spent time as an oarsman with other like-minded artists sailing between Ireland and northern Spain as part of a film documentary (“Camino By Sea”). Rowing the stretch of sea in that odyssey led him to naming his new album as such. The singer was quoted to have explained that it referred “to that moment when a sailor finds himself halfway between departure and arrival, without a shore in sight.”

Amid all that, Hansard found enough inspiration and clarity to hammer out 10 new songs that reflect that place of coming and going. Hopeful first single “Time Will Be The Healer” is about taking that first step even sans destination yet. Here, Hansard’s heart-on-sleeve, soul balladeer mode is turned on as he intones, “One day when you’re long past this you’ll laugh about it/ sometimes you gotta be a river to go around it/ just put a little distance between your world and his/ time will be your best friend when it comes to this.” It’s sage advice for those trying to get over a broken heart.

Official album art of ‘Between Two Shores’ (mb.com.ph)

Official album art of ‘Between Two Shores’

On the mid-tempo “Your Heart’s Not In It,” he sings pleading at first with, “We got lost somewhere I don’t know / but girl all I know is I can’t do this on my own.” But he eventually surrenders with “It’s come the hard way /sometimes you wake up and you know, girl I don’t think that you can depend on me anymore.”

The same goes with lush orchestrated “One Of Us Will Lose,” and Hansard’s Rolling Stones reminiscent (à la “Wild Horses”) singing on “Why Woman.”

The more upbeat “Roll On Slow” opens up Hansard’s new set. And if you’ve listened to previous Hansard albums, those lively brass blows are a welcome sound by now.

Though accustomed to playing solo, the band behind the electric/eclectic “Wheels On Fire” sounds absolutely tight. And with good reason, seeing that they toured with Hansard for the first album.

Hansard is at his best in delivering soul baring ballads. In the shimmering, saxophone solo-trimmed “Wreckless Hearts,” he drives home the message: “Gonna ride that river to the sea /gonna cry that river out of me.”

Repeated listening is required from points A to B.

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