It was 2000 when Emerald Rose released their album Bending Tradition, yet listeners need their words always. "Penny in the Well"'s third verse reads: "The loving heart, it is the bird that sings the song (she sings the song)/And even hatred cannot cage her spirit long (although we see)/The nations fight, still as people we are joined (we all are joined)/Our love for life shall be our planet's common coin." And that's just the opening song. What follows ranges from upbeat rock, like "Pagan Girl," to the gleeful celebration of "Merry May Folk," to pensive ballads, such as "Hills of America," to old-style Irish story songs, like "Red-Haired Mary." Emerald Rose once again brings listeners their enthusiastic fusion of traditional Celtic and pro-pagan original music, and fans of their earlier self-titled release will be glad they have. On a serious note, one of the album's most powerful songs is "Freya Shakti," a chant honoring many aspects of the goddess. It is a moving tribute, and one likely to get their audience reaching for repeat play. There are a couple of covers -- some beautiful vocal harmonies on "Come by the Hills," for example. Yet the majority of the selections are composed by bandmembers Arthur Hinds and Larry Morris, with input from co-performers Brian Sullivan and Claude Gilbert as well. And the results are exuberant, entertaining, and fun. These guys rock Celtic. So for listeners who value Celtic music performed from a positive pagan viewpoint, Bending Tradition is highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Murrday Fisher