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Love the Guys, but This isn't 5-Star material
on July 15, 2009
I pre-ordered this CD as soon as I saw it was going to come out. Full disclosure, I'm a huge fan, saw the concert in the Fall, own the first 2 discs & DVD. That said, this compilation isn't as good as it's predecessors.
To begin, Damien has obviously grown into his adult voice and in sounding quite mature, vocally, yet is given two 50's/60's era sappy over-produced solo pieces ("Breaking up is hard to do" & "Happy Birthday Sweet 16"). The female background is so grating I've only actually listened to each song once.
Keith is given a stronger position with the opening piece, but the Wichita Lineman seems like it was selected only to provide a stage-y action prompt for the concerts. Even the opening, The Homes of Donegal, though a good song, doesn't ring true to Keith as presented in "Loren & I" which he cowrote.
As for the other three men, it's hit and miss. George's remake of the crappy 80s song "500 miles" is inauthentic and ridiculous. I was hoping against hope that he would sing the 500 miles of Peter Paul and Mary fame, but alas. Paul's remake of the very recent "You Raise Me Up" is also odd because it continues to be a hit for Josh Groban. Even though he sings it well, Paul's version will never be the definitive version. Final note of criticism, Ryan's "Every Breath you Take" also seemed too produced and breathy - as though created for a stage production and not the album.
Negativity aside, there are shining beacons of "classic" (if such a word can be associated with such a young group) Celtic Thunder. Specifically "Because We Believe" "Take me Home" "Working Man" and "Appalachian Roundup"
It seems as though the producers forced the guys into creating another album too soon, although doubtless fans were clamoring (myself included) for more. These guys have worked nonstop for the past year with three albums, two DVDs, two PBS specials w/ fund-drive appearances, and Fall '08, Spring '09, and Fall '09 American/Canadian tours. Creatively, these guys should be given more breathing room and an allowance for more organic growth - but alas, this is just an Amazon review.
This reviewer is looking forward to the long-promised individual albums many of the guys claim to have been working on as part of their Celtic Thunder contracts... but don't rush it like this album seem to have done.
My condensed advice - cherry pick from the album via MP3s because there are gems, but they're definitely in the rough.