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After only seeing the film Once, er..once I had already fallen in love with the music. A film with music it it's heart such as this was bound to have a good soundtrack, but with Once, the film really IS the soundtrack. It's music with pictures added rather than the other way around.
If you have never heard of Once, it's a film set in Dublin, based a around a street musician, played by Glen Hansard who strikes up a strong friendship with a Czech flower seller, played by Marketa Irglova. Together they combine their musical talents to record a CD for the guy to take to London to make his fortune, and win back his girl. The result in a very sweet film and an incredible soundtrack.
This soundtrack, for me, brings back images, characters and moments from the film when I listen to it, but equally I can enjoy the songs independently of the film. This is a stunning album in it's own right and you don't need to have seen Once to enjoy this.
The album opens with 'Falling Slowly,' the stand out song from the film, a beautiful duet between Hansard and Irglova. It's one of those songs that I instantly loved on first listen. It's the basis for a particularly poignant, and my favourite scene in the film where the two characters play together for the first time. However, were it not for the strength of the song this may not have been such a memorable part. The director of the film, chose Hansard's songs for his soundtrack before a lot of the rest of the story was worked out and listening to 'Falling Slowly' it isn't hard to work out why.
'If You Want Me' is a song written and performed by Irglova. She hasn't got the most powerful voice in the world, but there is something about it that I can not stop listening to.
Following this is a short sweet and funny tune, and maybe the only point on the album in which seeing the film may help you out. 'Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy' is Hansard's character's answer to the girl when she asked what happened with his ex girlfriend. Probably one of the funniest break ups songs I've ever heard!
'When Your Mind's Made Up' and 'Lies' follow. Probably my two favourite songs from the album, written and performed by Hansard with Irglova adding vocals, these are two emotional songs. Managing to be simple yet building to really dramatic endings both songs are truly fantastic.
The only non - Hansard/ Irglova song, and in my opinion weakest song is 'Gold' (and no, it's not a Spandeau Ballet cover though may have been better if it was.) Performed by Interference, it's got a bit of a country feel and the lyrics for me don't even compare to the other songs on the soundtrack. "And I love her so.. I wouldn't trade her for Gold" Bleurgh.
'The Hill' is a track featuring just Irglova and a piano. A gorgeous song, in the film apparently about the girl singing to her husband she has separated from. Maybe not with the speed or drama of some of the other tracks, but it's simplicity and emotion make it one of the best.
'Fallen From The Sky' begins with a very artificial sound of a keyboard and you wonder if someone has changed the album over, however I soon became quite fond of it! Featuring the rest of The Frames (Hansard's band) on vocals, it's a good track.
'Leave,' 'Trying To Pull Myself Away,' and 'All The Way Down', all written and performed by Hansard are much slower and more sombre songs, though not lacking in any quality. The second half of the album is much more chilled out, but no less enjoyable.
The penultimate track is title track 'Once', only featured in the closing credits of the film it's quite understated and not what I'd expect from a film theme. This may be called 'Once' but I think the real theme to the film is 'Falling Slowly'.
Closing the album is a song called 'Say It To Me Now,' a song writtem by Hansard and is my favourite track from The Frames album 'Fitzcarraldo'. It makes an excellent close to the soundtrack.
Overall, an exceptional soundtrack. I bought mine for a bargain £4.99 from HMV.com. Also if you like this try listening to some more of 'The Frames'.
The film Once was released in 2007, and was featured at Sundance film award and achieved a 2008 Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly". I didn't see the film in the cinema or buy or rent it on DVD, as I did not know it existed. I watched it recently as a friend's house and enjoyed it. The story is very well written and really stays with you, but the real highlight is the soundtrack, which the film was made around.
Once, it is a film / musical / documentary centering around the relationship between the two main characters (played by Irish Glen Hansard and Czech Marketa Irglova) and the development of their street music in Ireland. It was very basically shot by and independent film maker, with Glen and Marketa basically playing themselves within a set of written events. As they are both musicians not actors, a lot of the story is told through song - the Once characters don't even names. However, it is not a traditional musical - they don't just burst into song at any moment, all the songs are included realistically (e.g. scenes busking or in the recording studio). I will not go into to more detail as I'm not reviewing the film itself and don't want ruin the story. All this means that the film is mostly about the original soundtrack, specially written for Once by Hansand an Irglova (plus one song by 'Interference').
Glen Hansard previously played in the Irish band 'The Frames', and appeared in 'The Commitments'. Hansard and Irglova both have music careers, where they sing / play with a variety or people, and they still play together as 'The Swell Season'. The have released a second album after the Once soundtrack called 'Strict Joy', which although not as good as the Once Soundtrack in my opinion, contains many good songs. Their style has Irish and Czech Republic influences. Some of the slower songs and is comparable with other singer -songwriters like Cara Dillion, and have some classical influences (featuring piano and violins). The more uptempo tracks fit more into the folk band or rock band genres, for example Mostly Autumn.
The track listing is as follows;
1. "Falling Slowly"
2. "If You Want Me"
3. "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy"
4. "When Your Mind's Made Up"
7. "The Hill"
8. "Fallen from the Sky"
10. "Trying to Pull Myself Away"
11. "All the Way Down"
13. "Say It to Me Now"
I love this album and I can listen to most of the songs again and again. I would recommend to anyone interested music genres relating to acoustic, rock, folk or classical. The album works even without the film, but the songs are so important to the story, listening to the soundtrack is like watching it over again. The film and the soundtrack are available very cheaply from websites like play.com and amazon (under £5 each).
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Falling Slowly
2 If You Want Me
3 Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy
4 When Your Mind's Made Up
7 The Hill
8 Fallen From The Sky
10 Trying To Pull Myself Away
11 All The Way Down
13 Say It To Me Now