Show: With Richard Thompson on Saturday at Constitution Hall. Show starts at 7 p.m. 202-628-4780. www.dar.org/conthall. $40.
Glen Hansard was catapulted to fame after starring in the indie musical “Once” as a street musician with big dreams, but fans knew him long before that as the founding guitarist of the Frames. His voice is resonant, carrying the strain of time through soulfully elongated notes. The Irish troubadour’s best songs, such as “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” build seamlessly from a whisper into a gospel-like fervor.
This is true for his latest solo album, “Didn’t He Ramble.” Its strongest track, “Her Mercy,” starts with Hansard quietly crooning, “when you’re kneeling through the hours / and you’re doubting your given powers” over the faintest guitar, but ends with a flood of horns and Hansard’s cathartic wail. He doesn’t merely sing: Hansard uses the notes to lay bare his emotions and demons, much like his idols Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. “Winning Streak” is a heartfelt homage to Dylan’s uplifting prayer, “Forever Young,” and, like its inspiration, acknowledges the darkness that makes such wishes necessary.
You don’t really hear Hansard fully until you hear him live. Armed with a tattered guitar that’s been on its last legs for years, he often sings Morrison’s rousing anthem “Into the Mystic” solo and unamplified, even in expansive concert halls, demanding complete silence. Of course, this only heightens the senses when he reaches an inevitable crescendo.