Strict Joy, by The Swell Season. 2009
Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard have followed their wonderful music from Once with another exceptional effort. It’s actually more assured, and shows greater musical variety and instrumentation, if not the appealing rawness of their first effort. They show no signs of a sophomore slump, nor any ill effects from their recent break up. Markéta, in fact, sounds far more in control of her own sweet vulnerability, and her fragile voice sounds further depths, especially on “I Have Loved you Wrong”. The ending moments of that song finds both Markéta and Glen harmonizing to soulful effect, reminiscent of African chants and Paul Simon.
The title, Strict Joy, continues their connection with literature, as it comes from a book of poem from 1931 by James Stephens. The name of their band, The Swell Season, is taken from a novel by the Czech writer, Josef Škvorecký.
Here’s one of the rowdier songs on the album, and it shows Hansard’s passionate guitar to great effect. Watching the two of them, it strikes me that few “overnight” successes have ever happened to more deserving people. I’m happy for them, and their music makes me feel more than strict joy.
Feeling the Pull