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Tirill - Nine and Fifty Swans CD (album) cover



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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Arriving 8 years after her debut, Tirill Mohn's follow-up to her charming debut `A Dance with the Shadows' (recently re-released as `Tales from Tranquil August Gardens') sees the artist combine her own unique take on prog-folk with the words of poet W.B Yeats. While it's still recognizably the Tirill that listeners will know from the first album, `Nine and Fifty Swans' sees the Norwegian artist abandon the more modern elements present on that debut and strip things down to their bare essentials. It creates a work that is truly timeless, housed in an elegant cover, with Tirill's voice and delicate acoustic instrumentation naked and laid bare, soaring high on those most simple of qualities.

The majority of the pieces resemble lovely and somber gothic lullabies, delicately performed on acoustic guitar, violin, flute and sparse percussion, with the singer often accompanied by a male vocalist to bring a darkly romantic sound. The progressive qualities emerge in the form of restrained instrumental passages throughout many of the pieces. Lines such as "I grew to be out of fashion, like an old song" sum up the singer perfectly, an old reflective soul held within a young body. The extra years since her solo debut has given her voice an added maturity, now full of longing and wistful regret, and it's very easy to see why the artist relates so personally to the poet's words.

Tracks like `The Cap and Bells' offer sweet storytelling drama, `To A Child Dancing In The Wind' is joyful and ominous, `Before The World Was Made' confronting. It's interesting that she gives the likely bitter and resentful tone of `The Song of the Old Mother' a surprisingly warm interpretation, perhaps seeing empathy in it's subject. `The Fisherman/Carolan's Ramble to Cashel' is daring and ambitious, with spoken word passages backed by subtle acoustic accompaniment, rising percussion adding a sense of urgency and drama. `The Song of Wandering Aengus' is a tale of obsessive attraction, with a bittersweet, even cold ending, though still offering glimpses of hope and immortal love. `The Wild Swans at Coole' is glorious and heart-warming, supported by the most placid washes of Mellotron.

Some personal favorites to mention...`Oh Do Not Love Too Long' is pretty much the perfect Tirill track. Droning immersive acoustic ambience, stirring cello and her sweet yet melancholic voice over sensual words.

But `He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' is especially touching to me - vividly descriptive, exquisitely romantic and painfully confronting, and I love the twist of the final line - "Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths, Of night and light and the half light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams, I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams." This is delivered with perfect fragility and haunting sadness by the singer.

Tirill's love for the poet's words are so evident throughout the entire disc, and her musical approach to them is very lovingly and carefully crafted, never strained and overworked, that the marriage of the two artists is truly sublime. Lovers of intelligent, thoughtful and passionate music for quiet contemplation will simply adore this.

Four stars.

Report this review (#1083043)
Posted Thursday, November 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Nine and Fifty Swans is a much more mature and sophisticated version of the Tirill from 2003's A Dance with the Shadows. Her voice styling has become more breathy, her choices in instrumental support and pacing more diverse, and her male companion on background vocals helps present a nice contrast and edge to her music. The lyrics are all taken from the poetry of W.B. Yeats--which makes for gorgeous English lyrics. Great idea!

Favorite songs: "O do not Love too Long" (4:34) (9/10); the proggy "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" (2:41) (9/10); the delicate, Spanish folk sound of "Before the World Was Made" (3:05); the breathy, the Celtic-infused "To a Child Dancing in the Wind" (3:00) (8/10) and "The Fisherman/Carolan's Ramble to Cashel" (4:57) (9/10); the male-voice-led "Parting" (2:29) (8/10), and; "The Wild Swans at Coole" (5:30) (8/10).

Report this review (#1338784)
Posted Saturday, January 3, 2015 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Those who have the fortune to study the poetry of W.B. Yeats may feel they recognise the title of Tirill Mohn's recently reissued second solo album, which originally came out in 2011. It is taken from the poem "The Wild Swans at Coole", and this whole album has been inspired by the work of Yeats, so lyrically this is a very English sounding piece of work. It may have taken her eight years to follow up the debut, but the result is an album which contains a great deal of strength and beauty within it. As well as providing vocals, acoustic guitar, Mellotron, violin & percussion she also brought in various guests, and a special mention must be made of Dagfinn Hoboek whose vocals on "The Cap & Bells" works perfectly with Tirill, while bassists Nils Einar Vinjor and Herman Schultz (double bass) combine to create a perfect curtain for the rest of the band to play against.

This doesn't feel as fragile as the debut, with more of a folk feel as it moves away from the more overtly progressive style, and one would never realise this was a Norwegian album as it feels as if it is an overlooked English masterpiece from nearly fifty years ago. Sublime, with superb breathy, fragile and delicate yet powerful vocals, this is definitely worth discovering.

Report this review (#2168773)
Posted Tuesday, March 26, 2019 | Review Permalink

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