For some, Markéta Irglová will forever be known as the “girl” in Once, the 2007 Oscar-winning indie film that she co-starred in (and co-wrote the music for) with Irish musician/songwriter Glen Hansard. It has been a frustrating career path for Irglová since that early career-defining role, not least being viewed as the slighter component of the creative partnership, yet with three solo albums she has forged an artistic identity that is very much her own. Now based in Iceland, Lila is the third of a trilogy and presents, says Irglová, an illusory assortment of songs that have love (“in all its guises”) as the primary theme.
An engaging blend of instrumentation bolsters everything: alongside the staples of guitars, drums and piano are viola, violin, harp, flute, horns, ukulele, bodhrán and charango (South American guitar). The textures add to the song styles, most of which reside in 1960s pop/folk that wouldn’t sound out of place on a line-up that might include Pentangle or The Seekers.
If you think descriptions such as “pretty” and “pleasant” are off-putting, then walk away now, but there is nothing anaemic here, especially if you factor in several instrumental flourishes (particularly in High & Dry, Remember Me, and the self-explanatory Know Yourself) that glide into nimble, classic-era Van Morrison-like territory (albeit with extra hints of Icelandic oddness). It is, smartly, a long way from Once.