(05 March 2000) The best compilation of Celtic female vocal artistsever 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 femalevocalists, several presently featured within Musical Discoveries. Anespecially 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-registerrendition of "He Moved Through The Fair" sung almost a capella over very lightly arranged instrumentation. Eimear Quinn's Eurovision 1996winner "The Voice," previously only released in Ireland as a singlecommemorating the event, follows with her stunning soprano vocals over the a lush yet traditionally steeped orchestral arrangement. FromCapercaillie's latest album Beautiful Wasteland (concert review), Karen Matheson singsthe progressive Celtic number "Hebridean Hale-Bobb" in her uniquemouth-music style. Next, Mary McLaughlin sings a lovely ballad written by Elenor McEvoy entitled "A Woman's Heart" over lightstring based instrumentation; multi-tracked vocals in the chorusadd a lovely texture to the arrangement. The wide ranging interestsand 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 leadWest Of Eden in a stunningprogressive Celtic ballad entitled "This Piece Of Earth," ahighlight 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. AmericanConnie Dover sends hervocals 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 traditionalstring and other light accompaniment from her band Dervish. Cathyis regarded as one of the finest traditional singers in Irelandtoday. Rich production and a highly accessible Euro-pop arrangementmake Talitha MacKenzie's "Hoireann O" from her Solas albumone 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 breadthand 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.comhere. This thirteen-track compilation is the finest ensembleof tracks by Celtic-inpsired female vocalists. The album should befurther 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!