Rhythm and Repose could have been Glen Hansard’s Nebraska—a collection of stripped down acoustic songs that shed the layers and memories of bands of yore—but the Irish troubadour didn’t really channel his inner Bruce Springsteen at all. Instead of locking himself in a room with a four-track tape recorder (or so the story went), Hansard stayed close to his previous musical muses and stylistic choices, leaving his debut solo effort feeling like a continuation of prior efforts, rather than a foray into new material.
Hansard, who’s also the frontman of alternative quintet The Frames and one half of the duo from Once and The Swell Season, actually brought in a host of friends and former bandmates to round out Rhythm and Repose. In fact, with Marketa Irglova’s mesmerizing harmonies on opening track “You Will Become,” it’s easy to forget Rhythm and Repose isn’t actually another Swell Season record.
But just because Hansard didn’t stray from the established formula doesn’t mean Rhythm and Repose inherently suffers. Hansard unleashes his heart-stopping howls on “Bird of Sorrow” and plaintive whispers on the closer “Song of Good Hope.” Tracks like the single “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting” and “Maybe Not Tonight” feel comforting in their familiarity. So even though Hansard is no longer that “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy,” he sure has realized that, as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”