BY JEFF ELBEL | FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Czechoslovakian native Markéta Irglová was introduced to a worldwide musical audience at the age of 18 alongside Glen Hansard of Irish band The Frames. The two formed a side project called The Swell Season, and achieved surprise success with the captivating independent film 2007 “Once.” The effortless and heart-tugging harmonies on the pair’s hymnal “Falling Slowly” earned an Oscar for Best Original Song.
The story and music of “Once” have since been adapted into a Tony Award-winning musical, which ran last year at the Oriental Theatre Chicago to rave reviews. The steely-eyed “When Your Mind’s Made Up” marked a pivotal moment on both stage and screen in the musical fable about finding the will to pursue life.
Irglová’s partnership with Hansard produced two albums by The Swell Season in addition to the “Once” soundtrack. 2006’s self-titled album arrived first, and 2009’s “Strict Joy” closed the book on the folk-rock project. The confessional “In These Arms” described the resolve to rekindle the fire of a deep love, but the pair’s own romance and partnership were put aside.
In 2011, Irglová released her debut solo album “Anar.” Irglová’s supple and expressive voice slid easily to the fore on songs like “Your Company,” no longer cast in the supporting role. Her elegant piano created an autumnal setting for “We Are Good.” The album took an exotic turn and revealed a new level of vocal intricacy with the traditional Persian song “Dokhtar Ghoochani,” sung in Farsi.
September saw the arrival of Irglová’s sophomore album “Muna.” The title is Icelandic for “remember.” The album’s 11 songs mark a major shift in Irglová’s life after moving to Reykjavik and giving birth to a daughter. “Point of Creation” repeats the phrase “You can have whatever you can dream of,” while cathedral organ bounces from towering rafters and a choir of the faithful join like fervent prayer. It’s a season brimming with joy, inspiration, and promises of enduring peace.
Although Irglová’s new material features lush orchestral flourishes, expect an intimate performance to fill the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Maurer Hall with shimmering intensity.