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A Tear and a Smile

Tir Na Nog

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Album Review

Tir Na Nog expanded their horizons on their 1972 sophomore release by adding drums (Barry DeSouza) and bass (Larry Steele), as well as some effective string arrangements. Produced by the legendary Tony Cox (Caravan, Françoise Hardy, Family), A Tear and a Smile retained all of Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly's offbeat phrasing, playful melodic deviations, and pastoral balladry, while subtly turning an eye to the prospects of a little commercial appeal. The easy folk-rock of O'Kelly''s "When I Came Down" and "The Same Thing Happening" wouldn't have sounded out of place on the country-rock-heavy airwaves of U.S. radio, and even though Condell's lighthearted Noël Coward imitation on the bouncy "Bluebottle Stew" is like listening to a half-baked Monty Python skit, it works because — like everything on A Tear and a Smile — it's executed so sincerely. Tir Na Nog were more than mediocre, but a few songs shy of great, and fans of Ralph McTell, the Dransfields, and Cat Stevens will find common ground and much to love here.

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s

Although they only lasted five years, Tir Na Nog managed to make their brief time in existence count, and fans of '70s folk still sing their praises warmly. Formed in Dublin in 1969, the duo of Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly were making the right music at the right time. Although influenced by traditional music, their compositions followed the singer/songwriter bent of the time, and the blend of two voices and two guitars did their material justice, light, airy, and thoroughly engaging, with bits...
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