KCRW’s Apogee sessions are always intimate events – and Glen Hansard’s music was perfectly suited for an evening previewing his upcoming album Didn’t He Ramble. With his lyrical depth and dynamic sonic range, Hansard’s performance felt personal, sincere, and sometimes painfully honest.
Hansard started the night with the track “Winning Streak” and you could already feel the earnest energy of his voice. Throughout the performance, his voice seemed to be perfectly powerful, gentle, and all in all – something real. Hansard continued with “My Little Ruin”, which he said was about a dear friend who you love, but just can’t get their life together — someone who “pisses on his chips.” It was clear that Hansard was able to intertwine charm and sweetness to some of these very personal stories. The audience listened intently and went along for the ride.
During the interview with KCRW musical director Jason Bentley, Hansard cited his trifecta of influences – Leonard Cohen for his lyrics, Bob Dylan for his mystery, and Van Morrison for the soul of his music – and it’s clear in his music how each artist has touched Hansard. He also spoke of the importance of having good friends whom you can trust to critique your work and cited Damien Rice and his producer Thomas Bartlett as a couple of those friends.
With his latest album, due out September 18th, Hansard explained he set out to do something different — to keep his ego out of it and get to something genuine. He said, “As a creative you want to get something from nature, take it into your living room to observe it… to document it, without damaging it.” And that sincere observation is certainly revealed in his lyrics.
Hansard related he created a rule to follow for this album, which was to have no love songs. He wanted songs that weren’t too sentimental. This was clear as he continued on into his next set, which included the track “Lowly Deserter,” an anthem for people who are all about a cause, but do nothing about it. Certainly, not a traditional love song.
Seamlessly switching between piano and guitar, Hansard was engaging as he softly sang “Minds Made Up”. He has an ability to begin quietly, build into passionate crescendos, and resolve with softness and the audience was with him throughout every song.
And just when we thought he had come to the end of his set, Hansard surprised us with a few more! First a Jason Molina cover of “Hold on Magnolia”, then a sublime duet with Gideon Adlon of his Academy award-winning song “Falling Slowly”, before finally ending the night with “Stay the Road”.
It was a genuine performance from start to finish and it was exciting to see Hansard’s energy shine brightly in this intimate setting.
Make sure to grab his new album Didn’t He Ramble, due out on September 18th. He also kicks off a North American tour at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, on November 9th.
The session was engineered by Bob Clearmountain and will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic Wednesday, September 16.
**Special shoutout to the 3 violinists who perfectly improvised with Glen throughout the night!
KCRW’s Apogee Sessions featuring Glen Hansard
1. Winning Streak*
2. High Hope
3. My Little Ruin*
4. Grace Beneath the Pines*
5. Paying my Way*
6. McCormack’s Wall*
7. Wedding Ring*
8. Lowly Deserter*
9. Bird of Sorrow
11. Her Mercy*
12. Song of Good Hope
13. Minds Made Up
14. Hold on Magnolia (Jason Molina cover)
15. Falling Slowly (with Gideon Adlon on vocals)
16. Stay the Road*
*Songs from the album “Didn’t He Ramble”