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CD Review: The Swell Season's Strict Joy

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The Deal: Oscar-winning duo, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, follow up critically acclaimed debut and soundtrack to the movie Once.

The Good: If you liked the movie, soundtrack or first album, chances are that you'll enjoy The Swell Season's latest effort. While the debut and movie focused on Hansard and Irglova becoming a couple (which they were in real life), Strict Joy is more of the aftermath – the couple broke up last year, though they continue to write and perform together. Their vocals create harmonious moments, though more often than not, it's Hansard whose vocals are at the forefront. Irglova finds her time to shine – "Fantasy Man" relates her side of a breakup (theirs?) with "the force that swept us both away was too strong for us to fight." At times, Hansard sounds like Van Morrison – "Low Rising," others – "Paper Cup" – he sounds more like Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam. While Once had a lot of solitary moments, there's a bit more sound backing the duo on this one – more orchestral, drums or tangible energy.

The Bad: The music in the movie was so simplistic – guitar, piano and heartfelt vocals. This one is a little more produced and polished. Doesn't make it a bad album – just makes it different from what you might have heard before.

The Verdict: A fantastic folk album from a duo who deserves a little more attention. You'd think an Oscar win would have done it, and it might. Let's just hope these two can stick together and keep churning out new music.

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