Paul Tiernan | Belle

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Folk: Modern Folk Folk: Folk Pop Moods: Mood: Dreamy
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by Paul Tiernan

Bittersweet love songs for Nick Drake, Damien Rice and Leonard Cohen fans
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Belle
4:45 $0.99
2. Stones
4:28 $0.99
3. Thin Blood
4:41 $0.99
4. Pretend
4:58 $0.99
5. Mr Smile
4:10 $0.99
6. Lemon
2:03 $0.99
7. Coming Up For Air
4:17 $0.99
8. Little Heads
4:15 $0.99
9. And Dreams
5:06 $0.99
10. A Big Mistake
2:56 $0.99
11. Leaving Boleagh
1:40 $0.99
12. How to Say Goodbye
3:27 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Paul Tiernan's first album since the brilliant God Knows I Love A Happy Ending doesn't disappoint, and is a rich tapestry of restrained music and deep introspection.

This review published - Wednesday 15/09/2004
by Lorcan Mac Muiris

It's been a while coming, but Belle was worth the wait. I've already gone on record as saying the title track is one of my favourite songs of all time, but the rest of the album is packed with mini-classics wrought from substantial lyrics too, from the tender and sentimental Thin Blood to the aphoristic, pragmatic Lemon.

Belle is soaked with ambience and is an album full of quiet, gentle understatement, though it doesn't want for profundity in spite of that. Instantly memorable guitar lines; full, dark, woody sounds and atmospheric arrangements shine through from the clear, well-balanced recording to paint a picture of a mind more accustomed to looking inwards than outwards - many of the songs concern memories of times past - but it would be a mistake to assume there is no commentary on the human condition here, or to assume that it's all "doom and gloom". Mr Smile, for instance; the emotional, lyrical, harmonic, melodic and timbral low-point of the album, flicks itself out of its lonely daze with a gallic thump or two (Tiernan is based in France and has absorbed a modicum of French flair, it would seem) and gives itself a whole new perspective. Pretend sounds like it could fit in perfectly to the soundtrack of one of those bittersweet "romcoms" that are so bafflingly popular of late. Consistent and true to iitself it may be, but Belle still has a contradiction or two up its sleeve.

All in All this is not an album that will have you up dancing around the room, but wonderful for the equally important practice of sitting quietly and listening. When you do, you will be rewarded: there is a lot to hear here. The quote at the top of this article comes from Belle but can broadly encompass the rest of the songs on the eponymous album too. You may not have to like it, but you take the good with the bad. When you're Paul Tiernan, you write great songs about them both.

PAUL TIERNAN Belle Right Stuff Records *** (Irish Times)
He's plied a trade for a decade now, gradually unpicking his identity from his previous incarnation as Flex and The Fastweather. Paul Tiernan's a singer-songwriter who's suffered from a surplus of on-stage bravado and a tendency towards effete fragility in the recording studio.

His French base proves musically fortuitous: shades of accordion cast subtle shadows across the title track; an organ lends a louche introduction to Pretend, and Tiernan's voice is less mannered than before, inhabiting its own skin comfortably, at last. Belle bursts forth with childhood memories of cricket bats and grand observations on life's intermittent bursts of activity.

Tiernan is gradually stripping the floorboards of his life back to the bare wood: a welcome postcard, not so much from the edge, as from the past.



to write a review


Beautiful contemplative music that stays with you long after the CD stops playing.

Dan I

Will renew your belief that beauty exists in this world
Gorgeous piece of work from the less is more school of songwriting. What at first may seem like just another CD of pretty melodies and sparce instrumentation, Belle proves to be an intricately layered masterpiece whose subtle genius bears repeated listenings. I hear something new every time I play it. The lyrics suck you into their stories a little at a time till you can't get enough. Highly recommended. When I need to remind myself there really is beauty in this cold , cold world , Belle has become the CD I reach for first.


Lovely piece of work. The last time I heard Paul sing was with Flex and the Fastweather almost twenty years ago and it was great to hear his voice again. One reviewer said he thought that Tiernan has to be Ireland's best-kept musical secret. I could not agree more.

Tamara Turner, CD Baby

Like smiling through tears.
Don't get the wrong idea, but Paul Tiernan's album, "Belle," is worth the $12.97 just for the knee-wobbler title track alone. However, that's not to say that the other eleven songs are any less stunning, each with their own genius. This disc is, quite frankly, entirely captivating from track one to twelve; Paul just simply knows how to magically open an album in such a way that you are completely knocked off your feet, catching your breath and searching for something solid to grab onto. With a voice so smooth and rich that it resembles something edible, with lyrics so insightful and moving that they stand alone as poetry, and with the way he treats the acoustic guitar so lusciously that it echoes something more like a string section, this is, without a doubt, one of the most memorable male folk albums to come through our doors in years. We call it the "goosebump factor" but when the heart skips a few beats, that's a good sign, too. And as much as artists don't care to be compared with others, it's impossible to resist commenting on the resemblance of his voice and style, at least on occasion, to Sting. With subtle jazz undertones and a songwriting approach that starts with solidly conveying a story and taking his listeners to another world, Paul Tiernan is no less than a magician, an emotional emissary, an inspiration and reminder that the best mood-altering drug around is music.

Hidden Tracks, SA Life magazine, Australia

Music weaves its magic web into most aspects of our daily lives though it is hard to determine why some music leaves us cold yet other melodies can touch us deeply. Could it be that any music which is in sympathy with our personality and current mood will please us best?
Paul Tiernan is relatively unknown in Australia, his new CD Belle will please many as it demonstrates the essence of the songwriter’s art with his superbly crafted confessional songs. Words flow over memorable guitar lines and understated arrangements, ranging in style from a laconic solo guitar to jazz influences and Gallic accordion playing.
Hot Press describes Tiernan as “The master of the poignant love song” think of Tim Buckley meets Donovan. Stand out tracks are the very personal title track with its line “mistakes are accidents we choose”, while the poignant Little Hands starts gently and builds into strings with voices echoing the chorus. The accordion laced Stones has a dream like quality while Mr Smile starts gently with voice and guitar building into a string laden climax, then comes the childlike Little Hands which is pure magic. While the mysterious girl on the CD cover is Tiernan’s bell, the title could certainly be a description of his music.


i cry every time i hear how to say goodbye .i can surely say that this is my favourite album this time!

Emily Graham

He has an extraordinary voice and it is music you can float on.


Excellent album.

Julian Freeman

They've all been milestones. This one's bigger than most.
Everything Paul Tiernan has ever released has been utterly remarkable, and each successive album has been positioned in Tiernan's unique soundscape so that, in some indefinable way, interrelationships between them are at least opaque, at best vague. Perhaps it's the way he tells 'em. It's that way with Belle too... or is it? Certainly Tiernan's most beautiful album, Belle does contain echoes of past glories, but then you'd need to know the Paul Tiernan songbook to be aware of them. To leaf through that auditory experience is to put Belle in a little context, but that's about as far as it goes. Neil Young. European Jazz. Joni Mitchell. The Floyd? La la la... and the rest, and in the end, it's the purest Tiernan recording yet. And like the very best artists, in Belle, Tiernan defies true description, weaving an enticing layer of mystery for the listener. Belle is Tiernan's most painterly production, a deceptively laconic masterpiece, full of surprises, allowing more space than before between the subject and the audience: a three-way split that gives the artist, the subject and the listener plenty of space in which to engage with each other, to ebb and flow. The subjects are never passive. They never have been. They are always affecting, for Tiernan's great gift is his ability - in Belle, and in everything else he's created - to be up front and nostalgic simultaneously, vocally and instrumentally. Hear Belle live, in concert, or with the full sound garden effect on CD,at home or in a bar and know you've been in the presence of greatness, first or second hand. Tiernan has to be Ireland's best-kept musical secret, and the honesty of this album deserves to make a truly substantial impact on musical consciousness everywhere. Tell your friends.

Jeremy Pluck