CD Review: The Swell Season

Strict Joy (Anti-)

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Possibly the best music movie of 2007, Once transformed Frames frontman Glen Hansard and little-known Czech singer and pianist Markéta Irglová into a power duo capable of capturing the purest kind of raw emotion. After winning the Oscar for Best Original Song for their striking duet "Falling Slowly," they had some high expectations to meet. Both musicians contribute their contrasting styles to the latest album, Strict Joy, with help from five longtime collaborators. The airy vulnerability of Irglová's performance complements Hansard's ragged wail. While "Fantasy Man" gently glides by with entrancing melodies and lilting violin, "Feeling the Pull" showcases Hansard's more aggressive side. Sadly, nothing has the bite of Once soundtrack scorchers like "When Your Mind's Made Up," which could make you shake from the visceral passion. Strict Joy tries to make up for it with gorgeous ballads. But it's a shame it doesn't have an entrancing movie to accompany the recording this time around. — Danielle Sills

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