Album Review: “Ancient Land” by Celtic Woman

42278081_10156688847302838_3619016091595964416_nIt is two years since I actually reviewed a Celtic Woman release. They did have a Live album come out last fall, but since it was really the songs featured on the “Voices Of Angels” album, I decided to not talk about it in fear of repeating myself. The group has experiences some changes here lately, with Susan McFadden becoming pregnant after the summer, she was replaced with Megan Walsh with the rest of the girls: Máiréad Carlin, Éabha McMahon, and violinist Tara McNeil.

The album “Ancient Land” apparently has 18 tracks, but Spotify only has the standard edition with 16 songs instead, so I will not talk about my thoughts for both “The Enchanted Way” and “Ballroom Of Romance” even though the titles read beautifully. I will try to have the English translation of two songs on the list, they may not be correct as I’m using Google to help me there. Okay, I think that’s everything before we begin the review.

We start off the album with our title track “Ancient Land” and I really love this, as it’s an instrumental with minimal vocals in the background. It sounds so gorgeous, you have that authentic Irish sound with the flute and Tara playing the violin throughout. It has this ancient vibe going through it, and sets the tone for what’s to come with the rest of the songs! Next is the first single, “Homeland” and you finally get to hear all three girls singing together. Eabha starts off with her semi-deep voice as she’s an alto, with Megan has a nice high-pitched voice that doesn’t exactly match Mairead, but I like it that way because they’re all unique with their ranges. The song itself is very light and cheery, and you feel that pride for your homeland–no matter where you’re originally from–deep inside whenever you listen to it.

Third is “Moorlough Shore” and of course, I looked this up because I was unsure about it. Apparently, it’s a love song that originally came out in the late 1800’s. Eabha is the soloist featured on this and the lyrics are in English, but she gives it this sweet vibe that I kind of felt like I was in a trance and got lost in her voice! Yup, that happened! The music itself is very loving, but mysterious which works well Eabha’s beautiful soft voice. We move onto “Follow Me” and it had this slow and quiet introduction, that you wouldn’t think it could turn into this is fun song! The first thing that popped into my mind was the fact that it sounds like “Níl Sé’n Lá” in a way where it is a party song. You can easily dance and if you want to, you can sing along too. These last two tracks are my favorite so far!

“County Down” is next with Mairead as the singer on the track. It is this cute little song, with only her almost child-like voice and a guitar and piano playing together in this gentle way at the start of it. Eventually, you can hear more violins joining in and it’s this nice chill out song, that weirdly enough I like a lot! Afterwards, we have “Love & Honour” and this is absolutely beautiful. It’s another instrumental with Tara highlighting the softer side of Irish music. The music does change towards the end into this powerhouse but it still keeps that enchanting sound that makes you want to walk around deep in the woods somewhere.

This next song is “Mná Na hÉireann” which translates into Women of Ireland. I am happy to see a song like this, basically dedicated to all of the beautiful Irish women out there, in the past, present and future. The whole song is in Gaelic of course, which I think is better to if it was to be in English. Now we move on to another cheery track, “Sive” and I was completely surprised because I knew I recognized the beginning but I was sort of unsure, until I heard Eabha singing and then it dawned on me, as she had done it at their Homecoming Live concert. So the song is actually “Sadhbh Ni Bhruinneallaigh” This time, it features all three girls taking different verses. It still sounds the same way but just cleaner as far as audio goes. “Shenandoah” is next and I was shocked again, as this is an American based song! The most important part is that we finally hear our newest member at front, and Megan sings it so good! I feel like she has a relatable voice, as it doesn’t have that classical quality, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I feel like it’s a nice country tone for a song like this.

The tenth track is “Long Journey Home” and it is gentle and easy-going. So far, this is the only one that has featured the bagpipes. I had trouble finding the backstory to this one, so if I have any Irish readers out there, do you have any answers for me? I would really appreciate it. Next there’s, “Tara’s Tunes” so it’s a four minute track with only an orchestra and the great Tara McNeil playing her fabulous fiddle in a very fast pace! It is a fun track and it has those good authentic Irish elements too! Now this one, when I wrote out the tracklist after it was posted on Facebook, I was a bit confused if the person who wrote it made a mistake and forgot to correct themselves, but nope it’s correct. “Ae Fond Kiss” is such a mellow sound going all throughout the song. I love the caring nature of this one though. I keep seeing people slow dancing to it in my head.

These are the last four songs off of the album, we have “Faith’s Song” and this is a pretty song, as it’s nice and slow. Celtic Woman creates fantastic slow dance tracks! Megan is at the front of this too, and at first I thought I was listening to Carrie Underwood! She has such an American voice when she sings, this is what I was trying to explain in the beginning where I was talking about her voice compared to Mairead’s. They kind of soundalike, but it has a distinctive drawl in Megan that isn’t shared in Mairead, which again, is totally fine! “Garden Of Eden” is after, and we hear Eabha at the start, and she and the flute that peeks out, are so sweet but it’s still upbeat to dance to with a fairly large crowd as well.

“Be Still” comes in, in this quiet way. Honestly, the whole thing is very soft song, but the only elements are the girls and the male choir in the background. It’s a very short track, but like the saying goes, “great things come in small packages” but honestly, I wanted it to go on a little longer! Our final song is “Going Home” and thankfully, we go back to the lively Irish sound with the pipes in the introduction, but the song starts in this silently way with Mairead and then Eabha and Megan taking over as the tempo expands back to what we heard in the beginning. The bagpipes come back at the end of it, but the song as a whole is really good! If anybody is away from home, whether it’s for school or a job, and you’re really homesick, I don’t necessarily recommend listening to this song.

Well, we are finished and I have to say I really enjoyed this album! I actually liked this one a lot more compared to their previous release. I was never able to truly mesh with it. I feared that “Destiny” would be my only favorite, but I’m glad to say that this quickly another favorite of mine too. What made it better is something that is easily noticed by fans of CW is that, they tend to do newer versions of some of their previous songs, but for this collection seems all new for the fans out there. It is a nice discovery to find out later on. The only one that I knew was “Sive” of course. I am glad they went and recorded that in a studio because it is really good and exciting song to listen to!

Have you listened to Celtic Woman’s brand new album yet? If you have, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorite(s) that you can list below?

snowflake

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