The starring roles in Once, the little movie that could by writer/director John Carney, are played by the Frames' Glen Hansard and Czech singer/songwriter Markéta Irglová. The songs, representing those of the character Guy and his collaborator Girl, are made up of simple and attractive acoustic pop, full of guitars, piano, a small drum kit, and electric bass, with some supplemental instruments. Sung by one, the other, or the two musicians together, they offer a sweet and moving little soundtrack to this quirky film that offers no easy answers and asks plenty of questions. Interestingly enough, Hansard and Irglová are real life musical partners who recorded an album together in 2006 called Swell Season. Five of the 13 tunes on this soundtrack originally appeared on that album. For the film, however, additional tweaks to the original material (and the recording of supplemental songs written specifically for the movie) was done in a studio in Ireland. While the film has garnered a sizeable audience for such a small budget project, the soundtrack may have a more difficult time. It's not because the songs are so personal, but because they are so small in and of themselves. Fans of the Frames may score copies, and those who are charmed by the film might like the music enough to be curious, but it's one of those recordings you have to be specifically in the mood for. The wispy nature of much of this material makes for an intimate listen and one that is as skeletal yet elegant as the film itself.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek