Internationally lauded contemporary Celtic vocal ensemble Anuna, best known stateside as the original Riverdance choir, lend their ghostly voices to the holiday genre with the Christmas-themed Winter Songs. The choir, led by sibling directors Michael and John McGlynn, downplay the "sing-songy" aspects of classic carols like "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night," filling them instead with complex harmonies that recall Bacharach and the Beach Boys. That's not to say that they ignore the season's emotional weight -- ancient Irish hymns like the gorgeous "Codhlaim Go Suan" are steeped in modal simplicity -- but there is a definite 1960s Robert Shaw Chorale feel to the more recognizable selections that gives Winter Songs an easy listening, new age feel without the keyboards softness. Fans of Enya, Loreena McKennitt and most notably Clannad, the act in which Anuna seems most reverent to, will find this unique collection a soothing addition to a night of quiet, fire-lit reverie. [Winter Songs was re-released unchanged in 2004 as Christmas Songs on Koch Records].
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger