Back in March, I decided to review my first ever Celtic Woman album, as “Destiny” came out back in November 2015. I knew I was late getting it up but I didn’t care! I love that album so much and did you see it was recently nominated for a Grammy?! All four women sound beautiful and diverse all at the same time. I was really impressed considering I have yet to listen to their previous albums and find my favorite tracks on them!
Now I’m back with their newest release called “Voices Of Angels” and not only does it include the Orchestra of Ireland but it also features their new violinist Tara McNeil, who was featured in their live concert DVD for Destiny, she was the harpist on the right side of the stage. The rest of the lineup is still the same with Susan McFadden, Eabha McMahon and Mairead Carlin, they each have a different tone to bring to the table, but in terms of favorites: Eabha is my favorite mostly because she’s the only alto in the group.
If you have never listened to Celtic Woman album’s, they do a mixture of traditional Irish in their native tongue: Gaelic, comporary, and holiday songs. They will also do multiple versions of the songs, you will find out more about that in this review.
So we’re finally going to start this review, the first track is probably the one song that everybody was iffy about, mostly because the great Celine Dion made this song so big that you wouldn’t think anybody could top it. We’re used to only hearing one person sing this song and here you have three singers pulling together to make a beautiful rendition of the song. It still has the same essence of the original, very soft and emotional! When they all sing together in the choruses, it’s so lovely! Somehow they managed to make this work and it just blows my mind!
The second is “Isle Of Hope, Isle Of Tears” and it is on their album “Songs From The Heart” that came out in 2010. This is so beautiful. I love the sound of the full orchestra for this song. I thought Eabha did a fantastic job! Nothing is too much or too little, everything just meshes well together! Next is “As She Moved Through The Fair” which they had featured in their first album “Celtic Woman” back in 2005, it was also included in the “Emerald” album they released in 2014. I think the reason why they tend to repeat the same songs is because some arrangements might’ve catered to the singer that sang the original version and maybe the other singer might be limited on high or low the notes of the song, like Eabha can’t go too high because her voice is naturally deep. It can be too hard for her to hit a higher pitch of a song or it could be that they wanted to pick songs that will sound lovely with an orchestra! Anyways, I’ve heard the “Emerald” version, have it on my iPod and listen to it constantly. I like this version, it kind of has this exotic vibe throughout with the gongs, it’s very pretty, but, yes I still prefer the other way!
The next is another rendition of a previous song they’ve listed on their album “A New Journey” that came out in 2007. It’s called “Mo Ghile Mear (My Gallant Star)” and yes, it’s another song I’ve listened to and fell in love with after some time. This one is very grand, thanks to the orchestra again! It still sounds like a traditional Irish song. The ladies and choir sing in the chorus in Gaelic but majority of is in English. Surprisingly, I actually prefer this performance instead! The fifth track is a song we all know but mostly hear it in church or Christmas time. It’s “Ave Maria” and this was another featured in the first album. This is sung by Mairead Carlin and I think she did a great job on it!
This next song is an instrumental and you all know how much I love these! It’s called “For The Love Of A Princess” you have the eternal “ah” in the beginning, the orchestra playing and of course the lovely Tara McNeil playing a gorgeous composition. I don’t know if it is a contemporary or Irish song since there are no words included and sixith song is called “Time To Say Goodbye” and it is not featured on their previous albums, so it must be one of the new songs that was said to be included on the album. I have to say Mairead Carlin has really surprised me with her vocals on this album, there a couple of spots where she hits some pretty high notes, it almost sounds operatic! It isn’t until the first verse ends that Susan and Eabha join in and it’s very beautiful when they each hit a different note at the same time and you can clearly hear it. The entire thing is brilliant!
“Dúlamán” is next and this definitely another favorite of mine and it’s featured on “A New Journey”. I love the soft beginning, it still sounds like the original version but then it opens up with the percussion and male choir, but it’s still very airy that I think the first arrangement kind of misses. As it continues on, it sort of grows and become more epic in a way. I can’t choose between the versions, they’re both great in their own ways, but this is a contender too! Now if “Walk Beside Me” sounds too familiar, it was on the “Destiny” album and Eabha holds the command of the song, as she sang the first version all on her own. I think the only difference between the two is because of the orchestra arrangement. I am conflicted with this one, but it is very enchanting!
Next is “O, America” which is a song that I have not heard and it is on their “Songs From The Heart” album and actually, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this song before hearing it on their rooster, that says a lot for me being American! I do think it’s a very good song. The eleventh track is “A Time For Us” which has a beautiful introduction. This one gives me like a Broadway or just a general play vibe. I think it’s very alluring, as it sounds very fantasy-like between the strings of the orchestra and Mairead’s vocals. It’s interesting! If there is a standard edition of the album, this next song would be the last of it and it is called “Across The World” and it is an instrumental by the lovely Tara again and the orchestra of Ireland. I really, really like all of the strings. I usually love the string section than I do any other part of orchestras. I love the classical sound they give off aganist the celtic violin. It’s very powerful and fun, which to me siginalifies Irish music!
On the deluxe edition, the setlist continues with a 2016 version of “Téir Abhaile Riú” and this is another traditional Irish song that they’ve had on the album “Believe” that came out in 2012. Again, I have not heard that version just the one they shared on their Facebook last month. Since I’ve heard it like this, I may not want to listen to the other one. I actually love this! I didn’t want it to end! The next three songs that are listed on the album are holiday songs. First up is “Joy To The World” which made me very festive all of a sudden. However, when I did this review it was like two days before Thanksgiving so I felt like I was cheating a bit! Anyways, I think holiday songs get better whenever a symphony is involved and I think most people would agree with me. It’s just magnificent of a sound with the ladies and choir! Next is “Silent Night” but instead of it being in English, it’s in Gaelic in the beginning and then it changes back to English. I kind of wished it had stayed in Gaelic the whole time, but I thought it was beautiful to hear such a classic Christmas song to be sung in another language even if I don’t understand it, yet. Last but not least is “Once In Royal David’s City” and this again, I am embarrassed to say I have never heard before, actually I might’ve I just don’t remember it very well. I think it’s lovely though!
I didn’t think there was a way to make the Celtic Woman songs more beautiful, but I guess I was wrong! I think this album as a whole is wonderful! I think it brought some of the fans favorites and brought them into a new light with having the orchestra involved, but let’s face it you add a real symphony to the mix and it’ll be 10x better than what you’re used to hearing on the radio!
Have you listened to “Voices Of Angels” yet? What songs do you like? What are your thoughts of the different variations of the songs that you’ve heard on their previous works?