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There’s a song on Rhythm and Repose, Glen Hansard’s first solo album, whose name is not just a song title but also a statement: “The Storm, It’s Coming”. The song arrives like its own warning, and it’s worth noting that it falls directly in the middle of Hansard’s new record, serving as a summary of the tense anxiety throughout the first half of the album or a warning of the dark storm looming in the second.
Much of the drama and tension amidst Rhythm and Repose functions similarly: Anticipatory or after the fact, the songs are either bubbling up or simmering down. For Hansard, that means more of his classic, slow-building full-band arrangements (“High Hope”, “Bird of Sorrow”) or gentle, sparse singer-songwriter moments driven by a single piano or guitar, gently accompanied by strings (“Races”, “Song of Good Hope”).
While Rhythm and Repose dives further into that same sense of turmoil Hansard has been exploring and toying with for most of his career, it also finds comfort in the type of well-earned contentment that years of struggle and unrest can provide. But Hansard can’t fully let go and show himself either. The balmy peace of “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting” is put to a sharp rest by the nervous, paranoid “What Are We Gonna Do”, the very next song. Indeed, Rhythm and Repose is mostly an anxious record, often times living in its own head, creating drama when there isn’t any, looking for trouble if things are going too well — the desperate cry of a young man with everything to prove and the calm, slow pride of an older man who’s been through it all. It’s the rare solo record that tries on new clothes while still making sure the old ones fit. — Consequence of Sound
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