Tír na nÓg

In the Morning

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Tir Na Nog, whose name translates from the Gaelic as "Land of Eternal Youth," hit a Zeitgeist with their first album. The pairing of Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly caught the same softness as, say, Nick Drake, but more open and engaging, with just enough lilting Celtic influence to offer plenty of charm (although, it must be said, very little of the Irish tradition is evident in their music). The acoustic duo could be sweetly romantic, as on "Time Is Like a Promise" and "Our Love Will Not Decay," but they could also offer a crowd-pleaser like the singalong "Aberdeen Angus." "Picadilly" is especially poignant, a touching tale. Condell brings a few exotic touches to the disc, adding tabla, Moroccan drum, and jew's harp, but that hardly turns them into a version of the Incredible String Band -- their writing simply isn't quirky enough. That's not to imply there isn't a strength to it; there is. They can pen a good, memorable tune with an affecting chorus, and the relatively straightforward arrangements, fleshed out by Barry Dransfield's fiddle and Nick Harrison's arrangements, are never overdone. Pleasant without ever being startling, this is '70s folk-rock, with the emphasis on the folk more than the rock.

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