If there’s an Irish blessing that can summarise the sentiments expressed on Glen Hansard’s second solo album, it’s “May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind always be at your back.” Musically, it combines the sounds of modern-day Dublin with old time Applachia, with a few swinging horn sections thrown in for good measure. That might sound like a bit of a stretch, but if anyone can pull it off with sufficient modesty and self-effacing humour, it’s Glen Hansard.
Good will and gratitude prevail on songs like “Winning Streak” and “McCormack’s Wall”. Songs like “Lowly Deserter”, “Paying My Way” and “Stay the Road” tell the stories of travellers struggling along difficult paths with determination and grace. There’s a strong sense of intimacy in the way Hansard sings directly to his listener and his voice sounds like it’s at the height of its expressive powers.
There’s no faulting his choice of recruits on the production side with contributions from Iron And Wine’s Sam Beam, Sam Amidon and co-production from Thomas Bartlett helping to flesh out a warm and endlessly listenable album which, like the work of the best Irish wordsmiths, is sure to keep its timeless power. This is a ramble well worth taking, time and time again.