Oregon guitarist and cultural historian John Doan is the master of the rare 20-string harp guitar. Here Doan and an ensemble of top Celtic musicians play 11 songs in tribute to the spirit of the Emerald Isle, as seen through the lives of poet William Butler Yeats, the great blind harper Turlough O'Carolan, and St. Patrick. Doan traveled through Ireland to visit significant spots; his colorful descriptions of his inspiration for the songs -- plus pertinent quotes and poems from the three great men -- are included in the extensive liner notes. Doan's compositions revel in the sentimental and noble side of the Irish experience. Doan's songs are heartfelt, like laments or love songs, with marches added to embolden the spirit. Bagpipes, uilleann pipes (played by Eric Rigler) and men's choir add to the drama, while the high strings of Doan's resonant 20-string harp guitar swirl like fairy dust, glisten like dew on the green grass, and weave magical vistas. "Where Horses of Faery Hide" begins with a delicate passage setting the scene of purple heather; galloping rhythms -- both playful and strong -- bring the magical horses to life. On "Wake," a male chorus conjures images of a Druid chant against a frenzied dance cadence. "The Journey Home" offers one of Doan's tenderest themes, while bagpipes and drums lead a brave march on "Tara: Hill of Kings." This album is lush with Celtic spirit.
AllMusic Review by Carol Wright