Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Swell Season | Giving Thanks

I heard Marketa Irglova, an Irish lilt permeating her Czech accent, speaking in a radio interview, saying that she is as equally thankful to those who have caused her pain as to those who have given her joy. The songs by Irglova and her partner Glen Hansard on The Swell Season's new album "Strict Joy"are testament to this sentiment. There's a new kind of vulnerability on this, their second record together; it's muscular, strongly infused with the experience of loving and losing and carrying on. The James Stephens poem that gives the record it's title reveals a purpose,

For, as he mediated misery
And cared it into song - Strict Care, Strict Joy!
Caring for grief he cared his grief away:
And those sad songs, tho' woe be all the theme,
Don't make us grieve who read them now -
Because the poet makes grief beautiful

By becoming familiar with grief, one transforms it.

See the white space behind these words? For me, listening to this record is like being held in such a place, open yet defined, secured by Hansard and Irglova's absolute commitment to life and music. Some of Hansard's band mates from The Frames play on the CD, which was recorded in producer Peter Katis' home studio in Bridgeport, CT. Every song has a purpose, and like all great albums, the effect grows with each listen.


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