Monday, April 12, 2010

Celtic CD Reviews: Altan & Solas

In honor of their 25 years together the Irish band Altan are releasing Altan: 25th Anniversary Celebration recorded at RTE Studios in Dublin with the RTE Concert Orchestra. We consider ourselves somewhat fans of Celtic folk music, but this was our first listen to Altan - and maybe the last. The first and third tracks were good - all acoustic songs played with traditional Irish instruments. But I just didn't get the orchestration with the orchestra for the remaining songs. As soon as the orchestra kicked it, the song lost all Celtic flavors and transformed into standards elevator music. Yes the music and vocals were beautifully performed - but please... give me some Enter the Haggis.

On the other hand, Turning Tide, the latest release from Solas was well worth the listen. Pure Celtic throughout, even when the band adapts song by Bruce Springsteen, Josh Ritter, and Richard Thompson to this genre. I also must admit that I've followed the band for a couple years now after a tip from Scythian. To get a feel of the band listen to the 6 minute all instrumental The Crows of Killimer/Box Reel #2/Boys pf Malin/The Opera House. And there originals have meaning - see Girl in the War and Thompson's 'Poor Ditching Boy'. And Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad fits this theme - love that song. Grady Fernando Comes To Town is another fun all instrumental as is Trip to Kareol - love the percussion. Turning Tide should satisfy Solas fans hunger for new music; for newbie's this is a good introduction to the band. Hope to see everyone at Celtic Fling.

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