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Czech singer Marketa Irglova is the quiet young female half of The Swell Season, the duo that formed out of its members' involvement in the Oscar-winning movie musical Once; her counterpart, Glen Hansard, is the far less quiet older male half who's been in The Frames for roughly two decades. Though they've split up as a couple since their remarkable run a few years ago — Irglova has since married Tim Iseler, with whom she also collaborates musically — Hansard and Irglova continue to work together off and on. In the meantime, though, they've been at work on solo projects, with Irglova releasing the lovely Anar last month.
Given that Irglova was part of one of the most memorable Tiny Desk Concerts ever — it was the longest, for sure, and perhaps the best — it only made sense to bring her back for a show where she gets the spotlight to herself. She may lack Hansard's attention-grabbing presence, but her songs radiate calm, quiet, infectious beauty in their own right.
Irglova brought a new collaborator of her own in Iranian singer-percussionist Aida Shahghasemi, who pulled off the increasingly rare distinction of bringing an instrument (called a daf) that had never been played behind Bob Boilen's desk — not while any of us were looking, anyway. With Shahghasemi's help, particularly in a Farsi-language gem titled "Dokhtar Goochani," Irglova crafted a lovely mix of the exotic and the familiar; of sweetness and longing. Regardless of the context, it's a pleasure to have her back.
Michael Katzif (cameras); edited by Bob Boilen; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Mallory Benedict/NPR
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