The Irish indie-rock performer has been at it for twenty-five years with most of us in North America only learning about him with the release of the film and the soundtrack for Once. He won a Grammy for the song “Falling Slowly”. After working with two groups – The Frames and The Swell Season he is back with his sophomore solo effort. Much of the album sounds like you would expect with him exploring blues and Irish ballads and they are solid but he really wins you over with the great “Her Mercy”. It is the type of song that makes you sit up and take notice then look forward to hearing it played live. The soul track starts softly and slowly then builds and builds to something wonderful. I really enjoyed all the horns on the album. It makes the songs have an almost Van Morrison sound to them. In regards to tone though it is a little bit more upbeat and positive than he has previously been, most of the album takes place in Glen Hansard’s comfort zone of gloomy tracks. He seems to be a man with a lot on his mind and plenty of baggage, but that usually makes for the most successful art. Melancholy seems to be his fallback emotion and while he does it well the highlights of his music happen when he steps outside and does something a little different. Like the reputation of the Irish the man is quite a storyteller and that shines through in the song “McCormack’s Wall”.