Since 1996

About Us

Album Reviews
Movie Reviews
Concert Reviews
Book Reviews
Contact Us

Strict Joy
Artist:  The Swell Season
Label:  Anti
Time:  12 songs, 49 minutes 
The Swell Season is an interesting group in that they formed out of the context of being in a movie together.  Glen Hansard of Irish rock band The Frames and Marketa Inglova make up this songwriting duo.  Both Hansard and Inglova appeared in the movie Once, which gave birth to the hit “Falling Slowly”.  As things go sometimes, a romance was formed, and subsequently ended.  Out of the ending of this relationship they released their follow up album Strict Joy.  
On this album, Hansard and Inglova explore personal struggles, relationship struggles, and heartbreak.  On what is my favorite song on the album “Low Rising,” Hansard sings
            I wanna sit you down and talk
            I wanna pull back the veils
            And find out what it is I´ve done wrong
            I wanna tear these curtains down
            I want you to meet me somewhere
            Tonight in this old tourist town
            And we´ll go

            Low rising
            ´Cause we´ve gotta come up
            We´ve gotta come up
            ´Cause I fear we´ve had enough
            Low rising
´           Cause there´s no further for us to fall
            Low rising
            Oh for the love of you
Many of these songs explore the sadness of the ending of their relationship and the healing process that has occurred.  Has Inglova sings in the very confessional song “I Have Loved You Wrong”:
            Forgive me lover
            For I have sinned
            And I have loved you wrong
I think you can get the picture.  Yes sadness about a relationship ending is laid bare for all to see, however, it isn’t a hopeless sadness that you are listening to.  You can almost sense that there still is a tenderness that exists between the two.
Musically, the album is very well crafted.  The songs contain beautiful melodies that are layered with strings and guitars.  Even though there are many layers, the sound is very organic.   
Albums that explore the end of relationships can easily become very overburdened with sappy emotion; however, both Hansard and Inglova carry out this album with beauty and grace.  
By Gar Saeger


  Copyright © 1996 - 2010 The Phantom Tollbooth