(05 March 2000) The best compilation of Celtic female vocal artists
ever to be released is a masterwork entitled Faire Celts A Woman's
Voice (Narada World (USA), 72438-48733-2-5, 2000). The album
contains thirteen traditionally based tracks by as many top female
vocalists, several presently featured within Musical Discoveries. An
especially nice booklet accompanies the compact disc with lyrics,
background and full details of each individual recording.
Sinéad O'Connor opens the album with her own stunning mid-register
rendition of "He Moved Through The Fair" sung almost a capella over
very lightly arranged instrumentation. Eimear Quinn's Eurovision 1996
winner "The Voice," previously only released in Ireland as a single
commemorating the event, follows with her stunning soprano vocals over
the a lush yet traditionally steeped orchestral arrangement. From
Capercaillie's latest album Beautiful Wasteland
(concert review), Karen Matheson sings
the progressive Celtic number "Hebridean Hale-Bobb" in her unique
mouth-music style. Next, Mary McLaughlin sings a lovely ballad
written by Elenor McEvoy entitled "A Woman's Heart" over light
string based instrumentation; multi-tracked vocals in the chorus
add a lovely texture to the arrangement. The wide ranging interests
and contrasting vocal melodies of Canadian artists Keri Steel and
Nina Loretto of
Imaginary Heaven are evident in the worldly duet
"Can You See The Border." Jenny Schaub's superb vocals lead
West Of Eden in a stunning
progressive Celtic ballad entitled "This Piece Of Earth," a
highlight of this magnificent album.
Altan and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
perform the traditionally based and upbeat folk tune "Molly Na gCuach
Ní Chuilleanáin." A review of Altan's latest album Another Sky
will be posted at Musical Discoveries later this month. American
Connie Dover sends her
vocals soaring in the sensitive ballad "I Am Going To The West"
over the lightest keyboard and guitar instrumentation. Cathy
Jordan's sweet yet deeper vocals contrast those before her in
the song "Érin Grá mo Chroí" performed with lovely traditional
string and other light accompaniment from her band Dervish. Cathy
is regarded as one of the finest traditional singers in Ireland
today. Rich production and a highly accessible Euro-pop arrangement
make Talitha MacKenzie's "Hoireann O" from her Solas album
one of the most enjoyable songs of this compilation.
Kim Robertson's whispy "Ferry Me Across The Water" is a precious
ballad sung over her Celtic harp. A lovely whistle echoes the melody to
vocalisations of Christina Rosetti's lyrics (Rosetti also wrote the
famous hymn "In The Bleak Mid-Winter" performed by Annie Haslam and
Michael Dunford as
Nevada in 1980). Continuing with harp and whistle,
Mae McKenna's stunning
ballad "Dream Lover" is a testament to the singer's vocal breadth
and energy. The song is from Mae's recently re-issued album
Mirage and Reality (review).
The album concludes with a contemporary orchestral arrangement of
an otherwise traditional Gaelic medley by Sandra MacKay and Tannas
entitled "Thoir Dhohm Do Lamh/Ruidhleadh Na Coilich Dhubha."
Multitracked vocal work, whistle and tremendous instrumentals
contribute to the track's rich sound.
You can order the Faire Celts compilation at amazon.com
here. This thirteen-track compilation is the finest ensemble
of tracks by Celtic-inpsired female vocalists. The album should be
further explored as a collection and to introduce listeners to
artists that they may not have yet discovered. Highly recommended to
a broad audience of female vocal enthusiasts, this album is absolutely
worth a cross country journey—a must listen in every respect!