Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Swell Season, 'The Answer Is Yes'

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová's creative partnership led them to stunning success: Their acting debut in the 2007 film Once won them a best original song Oscar (for "Falling Slowly"), made left-field hits of the film and its soundtrack, and made the pair a touring sensation. Hansard and Irglová released a 2009 follow-up album called Strict Joy under the name The Swell Season — and performed a record-setting Tiny Desk concert together — but eventually split up and embarked on solo careers.

Now, with a 15th-anniversary reunion tour scheduled for later this summer, The Swell Season has just released its first song in more than a decade: an Irglová composition called "The Answer Is Yes." A natural companion piece to "Falling Slowly" — this time with Irglová singing lead and Hansard joining as the song's second voice — it's a sweepingly sentimental celebration of lives lived in gratitude, without regret.

For those who've lost track of the singers in the 15-plus years since Once — and there are loads of dynamite songs on their respective solo albums — "The Answer Is Yes" fills in a fair bit of context, celebrating the pair's recent triumphs (including a wedding for Hansard) and the endurance of their hard-earned friendship. Here's hoping the song isn't just a lovely coda, but merely the latest chapter among many.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)