Swell Season is not a novelty act born out of a charming movie. Glen Hansard has been the lead singer for the influential Irish band The Frames since 1990 ("Falling Slowly" appeared on The Frames' 2006 album, The Cost, as well). Members of The Frames make up the band for Swell Season, including violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire, guitarists Joe Doyle and Rob Bochnik, and drummer Graham Hopkins.
Hansard and Irglova's relationship mirrored somewhat the gentle love story of Once, but they have since ended the romance while continuing the musical collaboration -- an interesting situation, to say the least. The latest release is Strict Joy, a beautiful cycle of songs about lost love, regret, recriminations, pain and acceptance. If it sounds a bit like therapy or couples counseling gone public, then all doomed relationships should have such a result.
I saw Swell Season at the Brown in 2008 and was impressed by the beauty of the performance. In addition to being a powerful songwriter, Hansard is a natural raconteur and storyteller with a gorgeous voice. At least part of his mission seemed to be in drawing out the more reticent Irglova, who was coaxed from her piano bench to center stage to play guitar and sing and even to spin a story herself. It would be interesting to see how that performance dynamic has changed -- or not.
You can purchase tickets for the WFPK-sponsored show online from Kentucky Center's box office or by calling 502.584.7777 (Toll free: 800.775.7777). The cost is $35.