Sunday, December 17, 2006

Celtic Woman – A Christmas Celebration
CD review by Sombrero Grande

This time of year, Christmas music is everywhere. Yet despite it’s abundance, it still seems that good Christmas music remains hard to find. Depending on what flavor of carols you prefer, and what you’d expect from Celtic Woman’s A Christmas Celebration, your mileage with this disc is likely to vary. If you prefer a traditional take on Christmas classics and aren’t too concerned with whether or not the tunes indeed provide a hearty Celtic substance, A Christmas Celebration may just be the perfect addition to your holiday music collection.

If I had to choose only one word to describe Celtic Woman’s A Christmas Celebration, I would pick “traditional.” The CD offers up all the well-known classics such as “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night” and “Carol of the Bells” with beautiful vocal and instrumental performances that stick to long-established interpretations. The group Celtic Woman doesn’t mar any of their songs with the kind of egotistical, unique twists pop stars often force upon renditions of these classic songs to “make them their own.” And when I say that the vocals are beautiful on this CD, I mean they’re pretty spectacular. Muchacha Motorista may take issue with me, but I could swear one of the singers here is a dead-ringer for Sarah Brightman. What more traditional Christmas music could there be than when the harmonies seem to be angelically sung? This is joyful and triumphant listening indeed.

One beef that listeners may have with the disc is that, despite the fact that the first word on the CD cover is “Celtic,” there’s minimal actual Celtic flavor to the music contained therein. A Christmas Celebration is miles away Loreena McKennitt’s To Drive The Cold Winter Away. Only a couple of tracks, such as “Christmas Pipes” and “That Night In Bethlehem,” really display any overt Celtic influence at all. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, just something a purchaser may not be expecting given the name of the group and the fact that the CD was recorded in Dublin. So, if you won’t be too disappointed in a “Celtic” CD that only periodically and briefly sounds like one, then give this a spin.

Simply put, A Christmas Celebration is the perfect CD to have softly playing in the background whilst wrapping gifts, arranging ornaments on the tree, opening gifts Christmas morning or just sitting in front of the fireplace sipping hot cocoa...as long as you enjoy your Christmas carols familiar in sound, beautifully performed, Celtic influence optional. I know this disc will be getting much play in my house in years to come when it’s time for a “mellow” round of holiday tunes.


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