In Once, Hansard finds a musical partnership and unrequited love with a young Czech pianist played by Irglova. In addition to essentially appearing as themselves in the lead roles, the duo wrote and performed the gorgeous soundtrack under the name “The Swell Season.” While the movie captivated the art house crowd, the track "Falling Slowly" earned Hansard an Oscar and thrust the pair and their burgeoning personal relationship into the stratosphere.
Relentless touring to support the film as well as their 2009 follow up, Strict Joy, followed. Somewhere thereafter the pair (spoiler alert!) stopped being lovers but remained bandmates, and it was that change of events and the resulting tension that became a central theme of the documentary released late last year.
Hansard put The Swell Season on hold and found solace in the relative anonymity of New York City’s lower east side, ostensibly, to slow down and step out of the limelight. His plans were usurped by an inspired visit to a weekly jam session at Greenwich Village club Le Poisson Rouge. In short order he enlisted the talented musicians that comprise the club's unofficial house band to record the tracks that became his solo debut, Rhythm And Repose. Equal parts melancholic and hopeful, the album feels like the unofficial postscript for Hansard's very public former relationship. He even enlists Irglova (the two remain friends) on two tracks including the achingly beautiful "What Are We Gonna Do."
Hansard is touring behind the album with his bandmates from The Frames. He still busks on Christmas Eve in Dublin and will occasionally take to the lip of the stage to perform some of his more fragile tunes unamplified like he's on Grafton Street again. A cool cover is likely as well: Hansard wears his love for his musical heroes on his sleeve and he'll occasionally accessorize his own tunes with classics by his self-proclaimed "holy trinity of songwriters" — Dylan, Cohen and Van Morrison. He's also known to have a slight crush on the Pixies.
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