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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 186 - 11/10/11

Nine And Fifty Swans

Many artists have tried to put music to the poems of Irish Nobel prize winner William Butler Yeats. Only a couple of moonths ago, Waterboys released an album with Yeats' lyrics, called An Appointment with Mr Yeats. It's even been done earlier by a Norwegian artist, Finn Coren, many-many moons ago. So when Tirill has used W.B. as her lyricist on her second solo album, it's not an original move. But I guess it has never been done in a more beautiful way before.

On Nine And Fifty Swans Tirill has put music to ten of Yeats' quite romantic poems. The music might be characterised as chamber-pop with some folkier elements thrown in for good measure. There are cello, violin, double bass, piano and flute on almost each track in addition to acoustic guitars, electric bass and the occasional electric guitar, mellotron and percussion. Unlike Tirill's debut album A Dance With The Shadows, there are no electronic keyboards involved. The new album is more mature (naturally, the debut was originally released almost eight years ago), and more, eh, not laid-back, but calmer. The opener "O Do Not Love Too Long" hits hard, even though it is soft and even the first time I heard it. A beautiful slow ballad where the flutes, cellos, acoustic guitar and Tirill's hushed voice entwine in a perfect way. The double bass adds another dimension. For me that instrument seldom fits in a rock or pop context, but here it certainly does. Like on two of Robert Wyatt's most beautiful and sad ballads, "Strange Fruit" and "Shipbuilding". "Parting" starts as a sort of baroque version of King Crimson's "Epitaph" but soon evolves into a seducing duet. "The Fisherman/Carolan's Ramble To Cashel" stands out compared to the rest of the album. The melody is a melancholic Irish ballad from the 17th century with a characteristic flute in front, the only one here not composed by Tirill. Anyway, it sounds as beautiful as the rest and reminds me slightly of some of Mike Oldfield's vintage folk-oriented songs and instrumentals from the 1970s.

As said, Nine And Fifty Swans is as beautiful as can be. To the extent that it almost makes me to cry, meaning cry both as in shout and with tears in the eyes. The risk to mess this kind of sombre, romantic and calm songs into some sickly-sweet and calculated soup is obvious. Tirill manages to keep the balance with elegancy and refinement and never ever slips too close to the soup, neither in her melodies, production nor singing. The album is even more perfect to keep the spirits high and soul warm during dark and cold autumn and winter evenings and nights than her debut album. 'Tread softly because you tread on my dreams...'

Tirill's first solo album has now been re-launched and re-titled Tales From Tranquil August Gardens with new artwork and three bonus tracks on both CD and LP. You can find out more about both albums at Tirill's home page.

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You may also want to check out our Tirill articles/reviews: A Dance With The Shadows, Um Himinjǫður.

© 2011 Luna Kafé