Glen Hansard is built a reputation as a hopeless romantic. This isn’t to say his focus is solely on the emotions of the heart, but rather that he finds optimism in even the darkest moments and lessons can be learned even in heartbreak. This explains why fans from as far as Australia and those on both sides of the pond flock to see him perform. He is the equivalent to a favorite blanket, where every song feels warm and secure. His third solo album, Between Two Shores, adds another layer to the 48-year old Irish singer-songwriter’s legacy.

Between Two Shores is an exquisitely produced album, where every instrumental note astounds and every words embeds itself in the listener’s memory. This often overlooked element is critical so that Hansard’s heartfelt ballads can shine. While there are a few old-school rock ‘n roll tracks, such as opener “Roll On Slow” which bops with a terrific horn section and the cool grit of “Wheels on Fire”, the record revolves around Hansard’s stirring soft-rock melodies and impeccable songwriting. The endearing “Why Woman” sees Hansard asking, “Can we just leave a good thing be?”, to the person who wants to go in a different direction. Through the moan of his acoustic guitar and the light trumpet, he hangs on by a thread on “Wreckless Heart”. He achingly sings:

“There’s no cure
For time separated,
But I’m holding on.”

“Lucky Man” and “Time Will Be The Healer” are also introspective numbers filled with hope even if that optimism is for someone else. For instance, he wishes an ex good fortune on “Lucky Man”, realizing he was fortunate to have had the time they had. On “Movin’ On”, though, Hansard reaches the emotional pinnacle. His vulnerability and isolation are on full display for all to hear. By sharing his struggle, he finds freedom. He finds a way to move forward now that he is free of these heavy burdens. He expresses, “I’m tired of sitting around and waiting; I’m moving on”. These are words not just to live by but also to admire because after nearly 30 years performing Hansard still finds new ways to provoke and encourage. He is, after all, the one we turn to in our darkest and coldest moments.

Between Two Shores is out on Anti Records.

To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here.

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