Those who stuck around to hear from Glen Hansard well after Once released will be delighted with this recent offering. All That Was East Is West of Me Now is as heartfelt and intimate as can be expected from the folk-rock musician, who blurs the lines of genre once more with this new record. Heavier and bolder yet with the swirling percussion and cool guitar holding opener The Feast of St. John together, Hansard takes new aim with a familiar presence. Domineering piano strokes pull a listener in, and soon they are held there by the heavier moments. Percussion and rhythm are not the keys here, it is the blood-streaked lyrics which Hansard holds high above everything else. Rightly so. With exceptional turns of phrase like this, it is easy to place Hansard as one of the finer lyricists out there.
Comfort only takes you so far. It is not until a track like There’s No Mountain rumbles through, drowning out everything around it, blurring life for four tender minutes. Hansard has a special flourish to his vocal range, that much is clear, but the perfect storm of this third track is undeniably a career-high. Perhaps, even, the peak. Equal parts Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, soulful country and Hozier, Hansard is nothing like any of them but here displays an understanding for the trio all at once. There is a slippery slope for alternative country or even the generous and truthful experiences he puts out here. Sometimes a little mockery, for the likes of Mumford and Sons, is not only expected but deserved.
Not for Hansard though, whose truth and beauty linger on the ears more often than not. A little French on Sure as Rain, paired with some lush little string sections, provides an intermission for the heart. It is heavy going before and after, but the raw beauty and intimacy of this track is an exciting proposition from Hansard. Sincerely, the efforts here are enough to relax a strained mind. Churning out work on five hours sleep over two days is no small triumph but Hansard slows life down, engages a feeling of desperate rest and presents it as the need to collect your head. Independent flattery on Between Us There is Music works so convincingly as a palette cleanser for your own personality.
Smatterings of Bob Dylan and Richard Hawley will come through, ever so slightly, for those deeply familiar with each of those artists. Hansard is his own man, and his unique tool is, expectedly, his voice. It has the spoken-word pace and rising roar needed to carry these tracks. Supreme talent the whole way through, Hansard develops his string sections well, bringing an absolute and confident voice to deserving lyrics. Perfect blends are on the cards, near-impossible to not compare Hansard to other artists, not for the similarity in sound but for the comfort he brings. Safety and assurance such as this are usually reserved for musicians who litter Spotify playlists for years, not just a day. Hansard has the essential qualities which make only the finest, and he does not waste this opportunity to bring out more of his comfortable, folk-like efforts. Beauties as disarming as this cannot go hidden very long.