While no one could've predicted the level of success that followed the release of Once, the emotion and intimacy that was so engaging is found yet again on Strict Joy. Hansard's reflective and seemingly burdened songs gel effortlessly with the innocence of Irglova's voice on songs like "The Verb" and "Feeling The Pull".
Sonically the songs of Strict Joy are much more orchestrated than we remember from the songs of Once. The duo recruited members of Hansard's previous band, The Frames, to help record the new album resulting in an unarguably bigger sound. Just put an ear to the sweeping "High Horses".
The vehicle that was an accompanying film is not there this time around for The Swell Season. But the music is. Strict Joy is a collection of songs that is equally as warm, equally as heart aching, and similar to the songs of Once equally as inviting.