(23 September 2013) Nádúr is the new studio album by Ireland's Clannad. The band's first album on world music label ARC Music Productions (EUCD 2471, 2013), it is a collection of thirteen all-new tracks and also the first in some time to include the original five members from the family. Read more about the project in our latest interview with frontwoman Moya Brennan.
During the period between Clannad's last studio album Landmarks and today, enthusiasts have been graced with a series of "best of" and live recordings, including the PBS-featured Clannad Live From Christ Church Catherdral CD and DVD, that Moya and the clan say was one of the inspirations for this new studio recording Nádúr.
Nádúr finds the band clearly at the top of their game. The tracks are well produced and span traditional Irish folk, the band's developing style through "Harry's Game" and the latest sounds on Landmarks. Candidly listeners are not tremendously well-versed in Clannad's work spanning a large discography of recorded material, might think that Nádúr is yet another "best of" recording. The material is indeed all new, yet it quite effectively spans the band's repertoire of sound and style. This makes the album perfect for the band's long-time followers and new listeners alike.
Rich keyboard washes perfectly accompany the layered harmonies behind Moya's lead in the album's brooding opening track "Vellum." The power of Clannad's arrangements develops as the song reveals itself. Clannad have always been known for blending traditional with modern sounds. "Rhapsody na gCrann" is the album's first track to do so on Nádúr. Listen to the classic Clannad harmonies in the choruses.
While Nádúr is clearly a Clannad album, the English lyric "Transatlantic" ballad is equally reminiscent of Moya's solo work. In sharp contrast, "Turas Dhómhsa chon na Galladchd" is the first of two traditional style tracks that have been given the Clannd treatment on Nádúr. The recording is vocally extremely lush with alternating male and female leads with very light backing instrumentation, except for the Uillean pipes solo that completes the track.
Clearly an album standout, the richly arranged mid-tempo track "Brave Enough" is reminiscent of the band's sound during the "Harry's Game" era. Listen for Moya's stunning vocal excursions in the song's mid-section. The vocal harmonies and melody contribute to the track's overall accessibility. Listeners should pay close attention to the melody in "The Fishing Blues," a lovely track that combines traditional Irish sounds with especially memorable 60s-70s rock music. In contrast as in Clannad's concerts, the track "Lámh Ar Lámh" is well-played harp and whistle instrumental.
The warm and upbeat standout--soon to be audience favorite--folk number "A Quiet Town" features Moya's lead and tremendous harmonies by the other band members. Upbeat track "Tobar An tSaoil" is sung in Gaelic and has rich arrangement. Moya returns to English for the soft harp-accompanied ballad "The Song in your Heart." Clannad's lush vocal harmonies add texture to the chorus.
"Hymn (To Her Love)" is delicately prepared with Moya's haunting vocals perfectly paired a lovely mandolin solo. "Setanta" is a gentle folk number where Moya's haunting lead vocal soars atop gentle mandolin and supporting harmonies that add significant warmth to the overall sound. We loved the whistle parts as well. The concluding track of the album is a Gaelic ballad entitled "Cití Na gCumann" with gentle string parts that support Moya's crystalline vocal.
Clannad have planned tours in various territories worldwide to promote Nádúr. The band have continued to hone their craft and the new album is a testament their past work and further development both individually and as a band. For those that are not able to get to a live show, watch them on DVD. We are so glad that Clannad are back. Bravo!