With a name as obstreperous as Glen Hornblast’s, you could be forgiven for expecting to hear a scallywag songster, full of roar and bombast. Longtime fans of traditional open stage circuits, however, know Glen as a compassionate and insightful songwriter, whose intensity resides in his careful phrasing and delivery, and in his dedication to song and to other song makers in both Toronto and Nashville.
His years of attention to the currencies of composition and melody that these communities trade in have resulted in his first song collection, released earlier this year at Winterfolk X. It’s entitled Once In A Blue Moon. The superlatives that apply to this record are not of the sort that usually invite hyperbole. Restraint, understatement, clarity: these tools, essential to communication, are hard to market in a world of instant opinion and supersized media appetites.
Even so, Hornblast has found big-time support in one of the most positive record reviews I’ve ever seen, in August’s issue of No Depression.
Sustained humility inherits wonders. As he sings, Glen Hornblast wears his vulnerability on both sleeves, but a penetrating nasal quality keeps a ridge of earnestness that delivers like an a.m. deejay, afloat upon David Baxter’s meticulous instrumental production. Even in speaking, his voice carries with it a measured tone of insistent and curious consideration. “What was the name of that award I won again?”
An urban rustic, Hornblast finds miracles and laments in the city’s darker streets. and especially in the characters stuck there on the cement. “Loretta,” “Homeless,” and “Mary” hinge on the risks of living too close to hard surfaces. He travels, to Paris in “Le Pont Des Arts,”, and to “Isla Mujeres,” and finds a universal home for his open-hearted empathy.
Hornblast’s approach to love songs is positively reverent as he exalts his beloved in the torchy “Evangeline” and on “River”, in which he confesses that the subject of his simile just “carries me away”.
Glen continues to explore the landscape of poetics and to develop new relationships within the world as a troubadour of compassion, romance and fellowship. His quest for the ringing moments of life recalls W.S. Merwin’s famous koan:
I will take with me the emptiness of my hands
What you do not have you find everywhere.