Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard have shared their first new music as the Swell Season in over 10 years. Arriving ahead of the duo’s summer tour celebrating the 15th anniversary of the film Once, ‘The Answer Is Yes’ was recorded at Masterkey Studios in Iceland and was produced by Sturla Mio Thorisson. The track features frequent collaborators Marja Gaynor and Bertrand Galen, Icelandic musicians Tina Dico and Helgi Hrafn Jónsson on vocals, Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson on drums, and Guðmundur Óskar Guðmundsson on bass. Check out director David Cleary’s video for it below.
“Glen and I had been talking about releasing new music prior to our upcoming US tour,” Irglová explained in a statement. “I wanted to write a beautiful duet for us to sing together each night. Something that felt right for the time and place; deeply personal and yet widely universal. Something that summarized our journey through the past 20 years, paying tribute to all that once was and celebrating all that now is.”
Hansard added: “We came together and as we’re working thru old songs the chances for new songs became almost inevitable. Creatively Marketa’s in a place that reminds me of Joni, where she speaks very honest and clearly. Which can be quite intimidating, but is a wonderful contrast to how I write. For me the ideas that bubble up to the surface when we’re together are the ones she’s meant to be part of.”
Elaborating further on the song’s YouTube description, Irglová wrote:
This song was given as an answer to my prayer some months ago. Glen and I had been talking about releasing new music prior to our upcoming US tour, and I made a wish in my heart to write a beautiful duet for us to sing together. Something that felt just right for the time and place. Something deeply personal and yet widely universal. Something that summarized our journey through the past 20 years, paying tribute to all that once was and celebrating all that now is. Some things have remained the same, like the strength of our personal and musical connection, while others changed in big and small ways.
Glen was getting married, and that was big. It was significant and it felt joyous. And so it made its way into the song, probably also largely due to the fact that the chorus chants of YES kept reminding me of a person saying “yes” during a marriage proposal, or while standing at the altar. I imagined being able to take the energy and enthusiasm of the easiest yes any of us have ever given and bringing it into other, less important yeses of our lives. For anything worth doing is worth doing fully, and no yes should ever be said with half a heart.
When I was half way through writing this song, I sent it to Glen in hopes of having him finish it with me, but he was busy mixing his upcoming record and the song finished itself before he could chime in with ideas. It felt as if it had long waited to be written, and it grew impatient on its last stretch. It simply knew what it wanted to be. Positive, celebratory, joyous and yes, nostalgic. For there is, after all, a lot to reflect upon and be nostalgic about.
When Glen agreed to come to Iceland and record this and one other song with me, I was beyond excited. Both about recording with Glen and doing so in our own studio. It is my favorite and preferred place to work, and it meant we could keep things cozy and comfortable, which in turn absolutely benefited our creative process, yielding way more material than we originally set out to write and record. Not to mention the time it gave Glen and me to catch up and our families to become as close as they did in this relatively short time.
Mio assumed his well “broken in” position of producer and studio engineer, and Glen and I agreed to keep things simple and invite local musicians to join us in the session, with the exception of Marja Gaynor and Bertrand Galen who recorded string parts remotely in Ireland with Cormac O’Connor. Our lovely neighbors and dear friends Tina Dico and Helgi Hrafn Jónsson joined us on vocals, and Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson and Guðmundur Óskar Guðmundsson on drums and bass. I later asked my dear friend Peter Moc, a fellow Czech based in Ireland to record some electric guitar parts on a couple of other songs, ones you have yet to look forward to hearing.
It made sense somehow, for this song to be the first single for us to release. We wanted to open with this kind of positivity and celebration, inviting others to join in our joy. The cover of the single was taken by David Cleary, who also captured all stills photography in Once, and documented our recording process in Iceland.
I had a vision for the cover involving a Claddagh ring, traditionally used as a wedding band in Ireland, and David was just the man to execute this vision. I liked the idea of it resting on blades of grass and wild flowers, as if it had been lost or still waiting to be found. The two hands holding a crowned heart is one of the most beautiful symbols I know. Originally the heart stands for love, the crown for fidelity and hands for friendship, but to me it symbolizes that love is the highest authority there is, and to serve and safe-guard it, the highest honor.
Glen and I have been friends for a long time, and our friendship is a manifestation of deep love. The kind that does not die and nor does it end, it simply is and always shall be. As I grow older. I cherish having people in my life who I’ve known for a long time. It means that certain things need not be explained. There is a quiet understanding. We were both there when it happened and there is a comfort in that. We know it wasn’t all roses and glory, but we have a lot to be proud of and an even more to be grateful for.
The little set of live shows we did together in March of 2022 blew my mind. It was our first series of shows in more than a decade. On the opening night, when I walked on stage and saw, heard and felt the audience, eager and excited to have us back, a part of me couldn’t believe they were still there, after all this time. It certainly offered many moments of deep appreciation for the loyalty and generosity of such a loving audience. Becoming still and looking around, we received all the confirmation one could ever need, of it all having been absolutely worth it. Not that I ever doubted that for a second.
Thank you for listening, I hope you enjoy.
The Swell Season 2023 Tour Dates:
Thu Jul 13 – Dublin, Ireland – Vicar St. – SOLD OUT #
Fri Jul 14 – Dublin, Ireland – Vicar St. – SOLD OUT @
Tue Aug 8 – Nashville, TN – The Ryman – LOW TICKET WARNING %
Wed Aug 9 – Atlanta, GA – Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center – SOLD OUT %
Fri Aug 11 – Boston, MA – Boch Center, Wang Theatre – LOW TICKET WARNING %
Sat Aug 12 – New York, NY – Radio City Music Hall %
Mon Aug 14 – Durham, NC – DPAC +
Tue Aug 15 – Washington, DC – The Anthem +
Thu Aug 17 Grand Rapids, MI – Meijer Gardens – SOLD OUT ^
Fri Aug 18 – Chicago, IL – The Salt Shed – SOLD OUT ^
Sun Aug 20 – Denver, CO – Levitt Pavilion &
Mon Aug 21 – Salt Lake City, UT – Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre &
Wed Aug 23 – Seattle, WA – Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery =
Thu Aug 24 – Portland, OR – Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall – LOW TICKET WARNING =
Sat Aug 26 – San Francisco, CA – The Masonic – LOW TICKET WARNING =
Sun Aug 27 – Los Angeles, CA –Orpheum Theatre – SOLD OUT =
# Leah Moran
@ Dylan Harcourt
% Lisa O’Neill
+ Corey Ward
& Lizzie Webber
= Eric Harper