Due out Jan. 19, Between Two Shores is a bit of an accidental album as Hansard describes it. It came from an ad hoc session Hansard and his band did at Jeff Tweedy's studio while touring to support his last album, 2015's Grammy Award-nominated Didn't He Ramble. "We just went in and put down a bunch of ideas and didn't think too much about it," Hansard recalls. The tapes wound up going into storage and didn't surface until earlier this year, when he started thinking about his next album and took a listen to the work they'd done.
"I thought, 'Shit, man, that sounded really good. This is an album in its own right,'" he remembers with a laugh. "The band was cooking, (the songs) sound like finished arrangements. Some of them were more vague ideas but a couple more or less fell out of the sky and landed as complete pieces, which is always a wonderful thing. I just said, 'OK, give me a week to finish off these lyrics and see where I'm at with them,' and I did and here we are and it's like, great, let's put it out so I can do another record."
Hansard will celebrate Between Two Shores' release with a solo acoustic performance that day at Town Hall in New York City, followed by a show at Brooklyn Steel two days later. He and the band head back on the road on March 10, starting with a pair of shows at Disney Hall -- one solo acoustic, one with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra -- before playing in North America and Europe. "I look forward to touring this (album)," Hansard says. "It's going to be enjoyable and easy because of the way we made it, just the band playing in the studio when it was in, like, peak tour form." He's currently on tour in Europe through Dec. 18, and Hansard's work this year coincides with the 10th anniversary of the film Once, in which he starred and which earned him an Academy Award -- with co-star and Swell Season partner Marketa Irglova -- for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly."
"It's still something I'm so grateful for," Hansard says of the project, which was written and directed by his former Frames bandmate John Carney. "When I think back on that time, I think about the sudden wonder of it all. What happened was...just good news, you know? Sometimes in our lives all we need is a bit of bloody good news, and that was it, for us and for the people who came and saw it."