Glen Hansard will forever be primarily associated with his breakthrough work in 2007’s Oscar-winning Once, but since going solo has forged an impressive name all his own. Between Two Shores sees the singer-songwriter expand from his adult contemporary country-folk to soul and blues.
That comes through clear right at the start with “Roll On Slow”, whose up-blues feels almost more like an eighties piece from Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen (indeed, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg played on it when Hansard did “Roll On Slow” on Late Night with Seth Meyers). The Ireland-African American blues connection has been remarked upon since another Irish musical film, The Commitments (which Hansard also appeared in), but Hansard gives it new life in songs like “Roll”, the bigger “Wheels On Fire” and stripped “Movin’ On”. Yet perhaps most notable on Shores is the soul aspect to the record, slow and sad and powerful on pieces such as “Why Woman”, “Lucky Man”, and the touching emotional resign “One of Us Must Lose”.
Those who fell for Hansard a decade ago in Once might be thrown by Between Two Shores, less of a charming busker (an image of himself that he mocked in a Simpsons appearance), more of a world-weary traveler. But it just shows even more Glen Hansard building his own identity.