‘Drive All Night,’ Glen Hansard

“Drive All Night” gets two out of five stars.



Parker Munson, Writer

Irish actor, singer, songwriter and guitarist Glen Hansard can pretty much do it all. You might know him best as the guy from the movie “Once,” in which he played a sojourner for love and won an Academy Award in 2008 for the song, “Falling Slowly.” You might also know him as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Irish group The Frames, or perhaps you’re familiar with his folk rock duo, The Swell Season. Hansard released his first solo LP this past June, called “Rhythm and Repose,” and he’s keeping the ball rolling with a four-song EP inspired by Bruce Springsteen, titled “Drive All Night.”


The opening track is a cover of Springsteen’s “Drive All Night” performed by Hansard alongside Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and the E-String Band’s Jake Clemons. It’s all done in an incredibly authentic folk arrangement with sleepy piano draped in earnest vocals from Hansard and Vedder, mused with Clemons’ swirling saxophone solos; all in the same murky fashion as Springsteen’s “The River,” in which the song originally appears.

Hansard’s band The Frames has always had hints of Springsteen-like riffs, so there’s no mystery as to why he’s chosen to make his affinity for The Boss so blatant. It’s a daunting task to try and compete with Springsteen’s level of determination, and Hansard surely gives him a run for his money. Unfortunately, it’s about the only track out of the four that really has any true grit to it.


“Pennies In The Fountain” is a lazy finger-picking folk song that desperately struggles to stay afloat as it hopelessly flops through five monotonous minutes. “Renata” might actually be a pretty decent love song if it wasn’t sitting in the shadow of “Drive All Night.” It’s certainly unfair to compare the two songs, but it’s inevitable given the format.

“Step Out Of The Shadows” closes out the EP and just barely redeems the two dull middle tracks with a beautiful acapella ode to independence. Hansard sings, “Well the flame’s been handed on now to a new wave rising strong / Step out of the shadows, my little one.” It’s the perfect anthem for Hansard’s cause for the EP. Some of the proceeds are to be donated to the non-profit charity, Little Kids Rock. The program helps bring music classes to schools who have otherwise been stripped of theirs.

There’s no questioning the scope of Hansard’s talent, and everyone is bound to write some boring songs now and then. While the originals on this EP weren’t as gripping as, say, his work with The Swell Season, he’s definitely shown himself capable of tremendous power both in his tenacious vocals and charitable principles. If nothing more, he plays a mean Springsteen cover. 

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