(05 November 2011) Tirilll Mohn released her first album entitled A Dance with the Shadows through Michael Piper's label The Wild Places in December 2003. The record got some brilliant reviews in international music press, and this first edition was relatively quickly sold out, thanks to Piper's love and enthusiasm for this album.
During the years that followed, Tirill prepared songs for a second album, but in 2008 Michael Piper sadly died after a short period of illness. He left an empty space in the hearts of many a music lover, being a rarely sympathetic and sincere man in the US independent music industry. In the wake of this, Tirill decided to start her own Norway-based label for future releases.
A Norwegian reissue of the debut album also became part of the plans: a copy of the master tape was found, andideas for new cover artwork took shape. Read our review of the reissue here. Tirill's second album is presented in a lovely sepia-hued digipak with a removable illustrated eight page booklet.
Nine and Fifty Swans (FairyMusic (Norway) FAM002, 2011) is Tirill's second album of all new material. Says Tirill, "The music has been categorized as Norwegian feminine gothic folk with progressive elements, a description that mostly covers everything." All lyrics for the album are by W. B. Yeats. Tirill wrote all but one song, arranged and produced the music herself and is credited for vocals, acoustic guitars and mellotron as well as percussion on two tracks. The ten tracks have a running time of just over 37 minutes.
Tirill has employed a vast array of musicians for the recording as well: Audun Kjus (flutes, additional vocals); Nils Einar Vinjor (electric guitar, electric bass); Nils Herman Schultz (double bass); Sigrun Eng (cello); Øyvind Sørensen (percussion); Nick Jones (violin); Dagfinn Hobæk (vocals); Jan Tariq Rui-Rahman (piano); Johanne Gallagher (Gaelic vocals); Wandering Finn (spoken words); Kostas Stefanopoulos (vocals) and Tonje Ettesvoll (backing vocals). Listeners will clearly recognize that the musicians played together before the music was recorded.
About the album Tirill says, "It is atmospheric musicwith worked through arrangements, while the selection of instruments this time is giving this album more space and air in the feel of it." The album opens with the Tirill's delicate delivery of "O do not Love too Long." The string arrangements, hint of electric guitar and backing vocals perfectly complement Tirill's sweet voice. The instrumental break features a lovely flute solo and presents the strength and sensibility of Tirill's arrangements.
"The Cap and Bells" is a lightly arranged folk ballad with sweet vocal work and a good selection of instruments. Listen carefully for the outstanding cello and flute parts in the mix. In "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven," Tirill and the musicians deliver a stunning yet short folk ballad. Vocals are whispy while the arrangements are crisp--with progressive influences coming through in the electric guitar passages. Audun Kjis' flute melody in "To a Child Dancing in the Wind" gives the standout a Celtic flavor. Rich strings and percussive elements add texture to the arrangement supporting Tirill's sensual vocal delivery.
"Parting" is a melancholy track whose melody is carried by cello. Tirill sings the lyrical passages alongside Dagfinn Hobæk. Listen for the White Willow-styled dissonance in the arrangement. Audun plays the dominant flute melody in "The Fisherman/Carolan's Ramble to Cashel" which is further supported electric guitar that backs Tirill's spoken word vocal. The electric guitar based instrumental build is tremendous. Tirill sings the stunning "Before the World was Made" atop acoustic guitar and double bass. The softly played singer songwriter folk tone clearly pulls on heartstrings.
Dense arrangements with lush vocal harmonies are found in "The Song of Wandering Angus," a tremendous duet sung by Tirill with Wandering Finn. Tirill sings "The Song of the Old Mother," a folky singer songwriter track atop acoustic guitar. Backing vocals by Kostas Stefanopoulos and Tonje Ettesvoll add a lovely texture to the delivery. The album concludes with the gentle ballad "The Wild Swans at Coole." The string arrangements provide a foundation for sung parts by Tirill and Audun Kjus. The flute part is stunning and this track makes a superb bookend for Tirill's second album.
Although it has been eight years since the artist's last solo release, she has been actively working on this wonderful second project. Tirill's selection Yeats' poems alongside her arrangements complements her voice and demonstrates the significant talent she has honed for this second album. Bravo!