For artists, it is better to slow evolve than to undertake any great leap forward. Glen Hansard came up in more adult contemporary folk over fifteen years ago in the Oscar-winning Once, but had been slowly moving into soul and blues by five years ago in Between Two Shores (QRO review). Yet the following year’s follow-up This Wild Willing (QRO review) was a step too far, too fast, into the slow. Thankfully, Hansard returns to true soulful journey with All That Was East Is West of Me Now.
Hansard’s soul-bearing gravel and gravity comes to the fore here, on songs such as the darker press of “Down On Our Knees” and the slow and intimate “Sure As the Rain”. There is an evening shade to “Bearing Witness”, while “Short Life” is a sadder call to live before the sub-minute reprise “Reprise”. Unlike the hour-plus Wild, East delivers in quality over quantity, not overstaying its welcome.
Now into his fifties, Hansard is naturally looking back in All That Was East Is West of Me Now (yes, that’s a line from one of the songs, and yes, it hits in the song). Yet that taking of stock has also meant an adding of stock, the slow build that has been Glen Hansard’s long career.