Original Soundtrack

Clumbia, 2007

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Movie critics are an uppity bunch, especially when summer hits and plot lines are resoundingly forsaken in favor of big budget explosions and romantic comedies.  (Music critics, on the other hand, are perpetually objective and sane. Just saying.)

But even in the midst of robots and wizards and pirates, oh my, one little gem of a film has managed to win over even the most stodgy of critics: described by director John Carney as a “video album,” Once is a quietly gorgeous ode to burgeoning love set to a similarly understated yet affecting folk-pop soundtrack. 

Once is ultimately all the more poignant for its simplicity, allowing the relationship between the Guy (Glen Hansard of the Irish rock band The Frames) and the Girl (Czech musician Markéta Irglová) to take root and unfold organically, refreshingly uncorrupted by Hollywood gloss. On 13 tracks, most based on acoustic guitar and piano, the pair fall inexorably in love and, despite the complications of previous romantic entanglements, manage to come together and create warmly intimate and moving music.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Among the most memorable is the album’s opener, “Falling Slowly;” reminiscent of Damien Rice’s frequent duets with Lisa Hannigan, “Falling” is an effortless meld of Hansard and Irglová’s voices, their palpable chemistry on duetted lines such as “Take this sinking boat and point and home / We’ve still got time / Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice / You’ve made it now” set to a subtle backdrop of delicate piano chords and lush, sweeping strings.

“If You Want Me” is similarly evocative, Irglová’s crisp, clear voice perfectly capturing the vulnerability that characterizes the tentative moments of a newfound relationship, while “When Your Mind’s Made Up” is a former Frames track that has had new life breathed into it, featuring Hansard’s impassioned vocals, slow-burning accompaniment and an unpolished edge which only adds to the track’s sense of immediacy.

The album’s last few tracks all manage to pull on your heartstrings, if only because Hansard is going at them alone. “Leave” is particularly stunning, lyrics like “Leave, and free yourself at the same time” morphing from sentimental and remorseful to wholly spiteful as Hansard’s voice becomes a biting growl.

Ultimately, though, I can’t think of another track on Once as affecting as its title track on which the two lead singers’ voices irrevocably entwine even amid the most hopeless of lyrics, a heartbreakingly touching testament to the power of love.

In our era of overkill and excess, Once is a no-frills portrayal of the sheer beauty of understanding and connection and more than deserves its widespread hailing as one of the most impressive music films of late.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2007 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Clumbia, and is used for informational purposes only.