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Celtic Mystique CD Cover
Image © Tandem Music Group 1999

Life/Beats Celtic Mystique CD Cover Image © Life! Beats 2000

(16 April 2000) The latest compilation album from Tandem Music Group (Canada), entitled Celtic Mystique (Cat. No. ACD 711-2, 1999) with a catch phrase "Women Of Song" is comprised of twelve contemporary Celtic tracks featuring as many female vocalists. Similar in style but with slightly more contemporary tracks than Faire Celts (review), this compilation has also been released by Sattva Music Verlag of Germany in Europe's Benelux and GAS countries plus Portugal and Israel, although in a different configuration and under the title Barrachash—Celtic Jewels. It has also been released in Scotland by Highlander Records, in Taiwan by Jingo Records, and in the US (with a different cover) and on a non-exclusive basis) by Metacom Music. Tandem Music Group President Graham Way oversaw the creation and production of the album. He told us, "It was a labour of love for me, albeit an arduous one in terms of putting it all together." Additional details are available at the label's website.

We were quite pleased to see the label include "On Heaven's Shore" from Mae McKenna's latest album (review) as well as "Bird Of Paradise" from Carmina's Pippa Marland. Both artists are extremely gifted and their work should be further explored. Also included are renditions of songs made popular by other artists or of traditional origin. A stunning version of "Circle Of Stone" by Laura Powers and "Danny Boy" by Sheila Ryan are examples. Jennifer White's "Loch Lamond" is yet another.

The album's highlight is "Ancient Souls" by Gabrielle Angelique. This progressive Celtic number combines the young lady's incredible vocal work with contemporary orchestral instrumentation and illustrates the promise of this emerging talent. Graham Way told us, "[the song] was produced by me in Vancouver specifically for this album. Gabrielle recorded a self-produced album [entitled Echo] of original material a couple of years ago ... a noble first effort ... Since recording "Ancient Souls" for us a year ago we have been discussing with her and her family the recording of a complete album of celtic-influenced/pop contemporary music. Gabrielle performs in the Minnesota area."

Another one of our favourites from the album is Darby DeVon's "Highlands," the title track from her album; it is an Enya-like track with much thicker orchestral instrumentation. Musical Discoveries plans to review more of Darby's work in the future. Anne Martin, hailing from Scotland's Isle of Skye, sings "Oran Leannan Sithe," and is reminscent of Karen Matheson of Capercaillie. Sharon Murpny's "Homes Of Donegal" and Jennifer Parsignault's "Prayer for St. Symin" are both a traditional-sounding Celtic hymns made more contemporary through their rich instrumental arrangements.

You can hear soundbites of every song, read reviews and order the album at amazon.com. The album is also available directly from the Tandem Music Group website. This compilation serves as a fabulous introduction to several of Musical Discoveries' editors' favourite artists as well as some exciting new talent that we hope to review further in the future. The package is stunning in every respect with classy liner notes featuring images of every one of the artists, a summary of their background and information about the specific tracks included. Worth a cross-country journey, it is absolutely a must listen!

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