Various Artists

A Thistle & Shamrock Christmas Ceilidh

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The relationship between the Green Linnet label and the popular National Public Radio Thistle & Shamrock program is a strong and longstanding one, and it's made explicit on this tie-in compilation project, for which Thistle & Shamrock host Fiona Ritchie chose a program of tunes like those that might be heard during a winter ceilidh in her home village. (A ceilidh is essentially a dance party.) It's a delightful collection of tunes, though the Christmas connection is a bit hard to see -- apart from John Renbourn's beautiful fingerstyle guitar arrangement of "I Saw Three Ships," the Tannahill Weavers' rendition of "Auld Lang Syne," and one or two references to snow and chilliness in a few tune titles, there's not much here that seems to have any seasonal relevance, so if you' re expecting Celtic-style renditions of Christmas carols, look elsewhere. But if you just want great music for dancing and carousing with friends, you couldn't find a better album than this one. Highlights include a rousing reel set from fiddler Liz Carroll, Patrick Street's slightly funky take on "Jenny Picking Cockles," and singer Niamh Parsons' heartbreakingly beautiful a capella rendition of Ron Kavana's "Reconciliation." Recommended.

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