Narada's 1998 collection of Celtic music focuses on contemporary new age arrangements of traditional folk songs. Most of the tracks are lavishly produced, yielding a slick polished sound that doesn't diminish the heart of the music. There are two tracks from John Whelan, who augments his traditional reels, jigs, and polkas with muscular rhythm and bass guitars. Leahy's "The Call to Dance" opens with lush synthesizer chords and mysterious piano twinkling before launching into a smoldering fiddle jam. If Karen Matheson weren't singing Gaelic on the piano-and-sax new age ballad "Mi le M'ullinn Air Mo Ghuin," it might not be recognizable as Irish music. In contrast, Connie Dover's rendition of the beautiful Latin chant "Ubi Caritas" might not be recognizable as Latin thanks to the distinctive Celtic flavor supplied by uilleann pipes, flute, and bodhran. The disc ends with Dougie MacLean's mellow take on "Auld Lang Syne," without which no New Years party can be complete. For anyone fortunate enough to find a copy,. this Celtic Music Sampler is likely to fulfill its purpose by attracting interest for the artists it samples.
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