Reviews:: Once Original Soundtrack

Note:: This review will be revisited once I get the chance to see the film.

When properly constructed, it’s almost impossible to separate a soundtrack from a film. Can you hear Stuck in the Middle and not think about Reservoir Dogs? Can you hear Tiny Dancer and not think of the bus scene in Almost Famous? Or a song like La Bamba? The Wind is one of my favorite Cat Stevens songs, but when I hear it I think of Herman Blume.

Point being, I don’t think it’s fair to gauge the songs Glen Hansard wrote for the art-imitate-life soundtrack of Once, especially since they actually sing some of the songs in the film. There are moments that soar in cinematic glory – like the strings on Gold – and others that are dripping with emotion. Obviously, since the film mimics time spent as a street busker in Ireland, Hansard worked closely with director (and former band mate) John Carney) and had a specific emotion and tone in mind for each song. You can’t listen to the stripped down rage of Leave or the heartache of Say It To Me Now and not picture moments in time that are crystal clear in his mind.

There are a few moments that get a little too Moulin Rouge for me – without seeing the film I picture Ewan and Kidman spinning around singing Lies - but overall, Hansard and Markéta Irglová sound lovely together. After the success of the record, The Swell Season (several songs are taken from that LP and Falling Slowly and When Your Mind’s Made Up were reworked from the original Frames version), it should be no surprise how impressive this soundtrack is.

But, like any strong composition, these songs are good enough to stand on their own. Beautiful vocals, arrangements and a varying range of emotions; these are the things that you look for in a record and this is the world Hansard and Irglova exist in. The bedroom symphony Fallen From The Sky stands in direct defiance of the acoustic nature of the songs, but it (along with the more uptempo, string laced Trying To Pull Myself Away) helps keep the record from melding into a constant (although soaring and beautiful) sound.

As a record, Hansard and Irglova have created a beautiful collection of songs that I can only imagine will sound 100% better in the context of a film grabbing praise from every critic who watches it.

MP3:: Falling Slowly
MP3:: Say It To Me Now

film :: more tracks :: the frames


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