These 2007 recordings capture the great voices of Lisa, Maev, Orla, Chloe and new member Hayley Westenra, and the inspired fiddle playing of Mairead, in a stirring program of traditional Irish songs, works by contemporary artists and compositions by musical director David Downes. The music was produced, arranged and composed by David Downes.
Second only to Riverdance as an international Irish showbiz phenomenon, previous installments of this Platinum-selling extravaganza have become beloved PBS standards. The original buxom quartet of female singers, Lisa, Maev, Orla, and Chloe, have duly been joined by Hayley and are, as usual, backed by a full symphony orchestra and choir, plus enough traditional instruments (the house fiddler, Mairead, is a powerhouse) to keep things legit. The material ranges from folkloric ("Dúlaman" is best known from Clannad's legendary rendering), to a standard from another Celtic nation ("Caledonia," Dougie McLean's love letter to his native Scotland), to classical lite (Handel's poignant "Laschia Ch'io Pianga"), to movie hits ("Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in a delicately lovely, a cappella, close-harmony treatment), to homegrown New Age (Enya's "Newgrange"). Most tracks are produced to turn, presented in the aural equivalent of Technicolor or day-glo, in which colors pop while diverging ever so slightly from nature. In short, although the album offers fresh material, it covers old ground -- but this is exactly what the act's target audience expects and desires. Fans of acoustic folk would likely find the prevailing aesthetic a touch garish, but fans of Sarah Brightman and Il Divo will be diverted and thrilled. The deluxe package offers four bonus tracks, three of them live, plus a silver claddagh
charm. --Christina Roden
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