Release Date: Dec 3, 2013
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
Built around a star-studded (production from Joe Henry, guest vocals from Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, and saxophone from the late, great Clarence Clemons' nephew Jake Clemons) cover of Bruce Springsteen's epic 1980 ballad "Drive All Night" (from The River), this four-song EP from Irish singer/songwriter and actor Glen Hansard (the Frames, the Swell Season) was released to raise money for Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit charity that aims to restore music education in public schools. Hansard and company play it safe on the title cut, offering up an emotionally charged yet largely superfluous (outside of the whole raising-money-for-a-good-cause thing) rendition of Springsteen's ardent paean to working-class heartache, while the three original cuts, the evocative "Pennies in the Fountain," the soulful "Renata," and the empowering, completely a cappella "Step Out of the Shadows" should please fans of the Once star's 2012 solo debut, Rhythm and Repose. .
Covers have always been a part of Glen Hansard’s musical fabric. Earning his salt as a performer busking in the streets of Dublin, he had to build a solid repertoire of cover songs from artists like Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and Elvis Presley to make some money. Through his two decade tenure with The Frames, his stint performing with Marketa Irglova as The Swell Season, and now his burgeoning solo career, the covers have never left his bag of tricks, and have continued to be a staple of his live set.
The songs Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova crafted for Once resonated because they tapped into universal tropes of love and regret while sidestepping corny sentiment. They were simple without being dull, straightforward without being rote. The same can't be said for Hansard's new EP, Drive All Night, an unfortunately sleepy, forgettable release composed of songs featuring down-on-their-luck subjects hoping to find redemption in love.
This new EP from Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard had its birth in his friendships and musical collaborations with Eddie Vedder and Jake Clemons, the nephew of Clarence Clemons. Bruce Springsteen’s “Drive All Night” played a recurring part in those relationships, including a performance of the song on stage with all hands on deck a few days after Clarence Clemons died. Both Vedder and Clemons again lend a hand on this version, along with producer Joe Henry and his studio crew, and the result is a soulful reading that, driven by the sax of the Big Man’s nephew and exhibiting Henry’s characteristic resonant ambiance, ends up on a corner where the Boss and Van Morrison meet.