Elven Starlight, Johan Benson's debut album, brings Celtic music from Malmo, Sweden, mingled with some new age themes. All the instrumentals are ethereal, evocative, and lovely, from "The Merries" to "Forest of Silver and Green" to "Fairy Dances." They feature a medley of pipes, harp, flute, guitar, and keyboards. Benson also incorporates sounds from nature -- the rush of wind, falling water, and birdcalls, to bring some of the feel of the forest into his work, and does so skillfully. At times, one could wish that some of these compositions extended just a bit longer, as he has a tendency to keep them brief. The vocal track on "Bard of Armagh" is pleasant enough, but needs to be strengthened, as it is much too soft by comparison with the instrumentals. This song could do with a remix. However, this is one minor glitch in an otherwise well-produced collection. (This is also a case where folk music changes as it travels, because Americans listening to this song might identify the tune as the one also used for the "Streets of Laredo." It's interesting to find out that Laredo has Irish roots.) In all, this is an engaging first venture, and casual listeners, relaxing to these gentle tunes, may find themselves becoming fans of Elven.
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