Being in a band with Glen Hansard can't be easy. He's a magnetic frontman, the kind of musical black hole whose charisma and supersized vocals seem to suck the light out of everything else on-stage. As one half of the Swell Season, though, Markéta Irglová quietly held her ground, yielding the spotlight to her partner whenever he wanted it but rarely disappearing into the background. Now, with the Swell Season on the back burner and her relationship with Hansard downgraded to "friends only," she makes her solo debut with Anar. Left to her own devices, Irglová clings to a delicate mix of singer/songwriter piano tunes and adult contemporary ballads, most of which prize ethereality above genuine pop hooks. Brushed percussion and gobs of background vocals help beef up an otherwise sparse sound, and some of the better songs pit Irglová's piano against a backdrop of thick, vintage-sounding horns. Even at its most ornate, though, this album never manages to bring its maker out of her introverted shell. Irglová always worked well as a foil to Glen Hansard --- she was the calm to his frenzy, the cool-down to his catharsis --- but she's too subdued on her own, and Anar's pretty, gauzy ambience makes an impression without leaving a real impact.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey