The brainchild of musical director, conductor, composer and arranger, David Downes (MD 'Riverdance'), Celtic Woman is the perfect showcase for some of Ireland's most dynamic new musical talent. Chloe Agnew (vocalist), Lisa Kelly (vocalist), Orla Fallon (vocalist and harpist), Mairead Nesbitt (violin) and Maev (vocalist) perform a number of haunting Celtic songs that include traditional standards and uptempo contemporary compositions. Celtic Woman was released in America just over a year ago where the album stayed at No.1 in the Billboard World Music Chart for 53 weeks.
Fueled by healthy public appetite for traditional melodies and quasi-ethnic roots, the crossover genre continues to flourish with this debut release from Ireland's Celtic Woman ensemble. The brainchild of Sharon Browne, Dave Kavanaugh (founders of Ireland's successful Celtic Collections label) and young Riverdance touring company musical director David Downes, CW's five young women musicians and vocalists offer up an ever pleasant, Eire-savvy fusion of folk, pop and classical influences. Avoiding the intrusive, club-beat/sex kitten window dressing of Bond, the ensemble tackles material that ranges from the expected (spare, lovely covers of "Danny Boy" and "Ave Maria") to more adventurous fare like "Nella Fantasia" (Ennio Morricone's vocal adaptation of his rapturous theme from The Mission) and Enya's "Orinoco Flow." Elsewhere, "The Butterfly" offers up fiddle-fueled take on their Riverdance parallels (which also get a workout on the live bonus tracks), if renditions of Downes' originals like "One World" and "Send Me a Song" and "Someday" from Disney's animated Hunchback of Notre Dame hew slavishly to the middle of the road -- which largely seems the album's easy-listening intention. --Jerry McCulley