Album Review: TIR NA NOG – Strong In The Sun

a tear and smile

Esoteric Recordings

Kicking off with a rigorous, up-tempo take on Nick Drake’s ‘Free Ride’, Irish multi-instrumentalist duo, Leo O’Kelly and Sonny Condell (augmented by producer Procul Harum’s Matthew Fisher on keyboards amongst others) embark on their most ambitious work, segueing from balladry one moment to progressive fusion the next, via gentle rockers and even a spot of whimsy.

Recorded in 1973 for Chrysalis, an accomplished set comes by way of the previous year’s ‘A Tear And A Smile’ (***), produced by Terry Cox (Caravan, Family) and bolstered by Cat Stevens’ rhythm section of percussionist Barry de Souza and bassist Larry Steele, itself a step onto a more commercial footing from the campfire psych-folk of their witchy and exotic 1971 debut, ‘Tir Na Nog’ (****), both also reissued by Esoteric.

In fact, ‘Strong In The Sun’ constitutes such a jump forward within only two years it probably upset the sensibilities of folk purists even if the busy guitar and hypnotic percussive pattering already hinted at a broader canvas to come.

Compositionally their most rounded and mature outing to date, this album also benefits hugely from Fisher’s assured production and never falters in drive nor purpose, even in those moments when Tir Na Nog’s tendency to sentiment could otherwise cloy the palate.

No tricky third album for Tir Na Nog. As period folk rock goes, this is strong in any weather.

****

Peter Muir





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Power Plays w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
SMOKING MARTHA Wild & Free (Xelon Entertainment)
TRUE NORTH Fix (Out Of Line Music)
COLLECTED Say When (indie)
ABOUT KINGS Heaven On Down The Highway (indie)
WHALEDOG Leave Me Alone (indie)
LED BY LANTERNS Six Feet Down (indie)
KROOKED TONGUE Freaky Love (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 BITE THE BULLET End Of The Line (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 CRYSTAL BALL Crysteria (Massacre Records)
14:00-16:00 SEAN TAYLOR The Beat Goes On (indie)



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