We are about to leap headlong with wild abandon and unrepressed joy into the green. St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and there’s plenty to celebrate with this year’s Celtic music offerings. Whether you’re feting the Irish saint or just happy that spring is about to be sprung, World Music Central will have you kicking up your heels with some Celtic reels in no time.
Celtic folk rock’s West of Eden has Safe Crossing on slate to dazzle the senses. Their seventh recording, Safe Crossing is a nice mix of contemporary folk, Celtic folk and crafted storytelling. Some dishy tracks include “Haul Away,” title track “Safe Crossing,” “13 Knots” and “The Scilly Set.” Fans are treated to guest performances by Irish flute player Steph Geremia, Swedish singer and songwriter Christian Kjellvander and The Celtic Brass Quartet.
Voice of Ages by The Chieftans offers performances by Bon Iver, The Decemberists, The Civil Wars, Pistol Annies, Punch Brothers, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Imelda May. This two-CD/DVD set offers such tracks as “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies,” “Down in the Willow Garden,” “Hard Times Come Again no More” with Paolo Nutini and “Peggy Gordon” with The Secret Sisters.
Clannad has on tap the two-CD set The Essential Clannad with such goodies as “Broken Pieces,” “Ri Na Cruinne,” “Anam” and “Caislean Air.”
Celtic Woman offers Believe with such “Awakening,” “Nocturne,” “Teir Abhaile Riu” and “The Parting Glass.”
Cathy Jordan’s All the Way Home is a real treat with such lovely pieces like “The Bold Fenian,” “The River Field Waltz,” “In Curraghroe” and “The Lark in the Clear Air.” With lovely crystalline vocals and bright, clean compositions All the Way Home is a bold and delightful debut solo album for Ms. Jordan, though Celtic music enthusiasts might know her as part of the traditional Irish band Dervish.
Mary Black’s Stories from the Steeples offers up “Walking With My Love” with guest artist Finbar Furey, “Mountains to the Sea” with Imelda May and “Lighthouse Light” with Janis Ian. And “One True Place” is a treat.
The special edition, two-CD set of The Rough Guide to Celtic Women offers up a bevy of beauties like Cara Dillon, Cecile Corbel, Teresa Doyle, Carol Keogh and Pauline Scanlon. There are some dazzling goodies on this set like Susana Seivane’s “Foliada De Caion,” Capercaillie’s “Turas An Anraidh” and Maggie Maclnnes’s “A’ Mhaighdeann Bharrach.” Fans get the extra special treatment with Orrachan’s “Don Oice Ud I mBeithil,” “Gabham molta Bhride” “Seacht nDolas Na Maighdine Muire.”
The label Kija Entertainment/Absolute/Universal has put out Celtic Skies to tempt the soul with a collection of Irish and Scottish tracks by a who’s who list of artists like Andrea Corr, Damien Dempsey and Moya Brennan. There’s a fine selection with versions of “She Moved Through the Fair,” “Down by the Salley Gardens” and “Rare Ould Times.”
Celtic music fans have reason to send up a collective cheer with Altan’s latest The Poison Glenn. This CD is certainly on top of my list this St. Patrick’s Day. With “A Fig for a Kiss/The Turf Cutter,” the lovely and bright “The Ardara Girls/The Backdoor Highlands/Fascadh mo Leine” and the elegant “An Ghealog” it’s hard to resist this recording. Of course, I don’t know an Altan CD that doesn’t inspire a certain amount of giddy delight, but The Poison Glen is especially good. If you can make it through “The New Rigged Ship/Eddie Curran’s Monaghan Twig/Kitty the Hare” or “The Lancers Jig/The Further in the Deeper” without the barest toe tapping, well, you’re a stronger person than I am. “The Wheels of the World” and “Tommy Potts’ Slip Jig” are oh so fine and smooth as a well-built pint.
Moya Brennan has hit the scene with her first solo, live recording Heart Strings. With a little help from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Ms. Brennan makes her way through such goodies as “Tapestry,” “Perfect Time,” “Molly Fair” and “Sailing Away.” Ms. Brennan treats listeners to a couple of tracks that harken back to her days with Clannad like “I Will Find You” and “In a Lifetime.” “Theme from Harry’s Game” is so good that it’s difficult not to slip into a little Celtic inspired melancholy when the track ends. Fans in the Silver Spring, Maryland and the Washington DC area should know that Ms. Brennan will be performing live on March 15th and March 17th, so you should snap up any available tickets quick!
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.