It’s difficult to separate Czech singer/songwriter Marketa Irglova from her duo with Glen Hansard, the Swell Season, and their improbable rise following their star turn in the tiny, perfect indie film Once. Irglova always seemed the serious virtuoso to Hansard’s free-spirited poet, an impression borne out in her solo work, which benefits from her gloriously crystalline soprano but lacks the passion that brought such life to the Swell Season’s duets.
Irglova’s sophomore release, Muna (Icelandic for “to remember”), still has a delicate, emotive touch, though the overly sombre approach to her cinematic folk tunes makes for a somewhat unvaried listen over 51 minutes. Church bells and a choir set the reverent tone on opener Point Of Creation, but Irglova’s contemplative lyrics seem better served by less formal arrangements, like the skittering rhythm and pretty piano melody of Time Immemorial or the Balkan-style horns on Gabriel. Swell Season fans may get nostalgic hearing closer This Right Here, which brings to mind Falling Slowly’s heartrending keys-and-strings crescendo.
Top track: This Right Here
Marketa Irglova plays the Mod Club Thursday (October 9).