The collection of previously released material and three new tracks on Gaelic Storm's Special Reserve captures the infectious, somewhat raw energy that has become this band's trademark. An occasional detour into some other corner of the world's music adds softer fragrances, but even "Swimmin' in the Sea," which sounds like a Paul Simon interpolation of a Caribbean groove, bears that whiff of Watney's puddled on oak. Heard for the first time, "Courtin' in the Kitchen" tells a bawdy story over galloping drums and keening pennywhistles, "The Schooner Lake Set" showcases Tom Brown's rugged virtuosity on pipes, and "Nancy Whiskey" opens with an electronic bagpipe line whose retro-synth texture gives way to a cautionary message that seems intended, given the boisterous vocal, to be ignored. Capped inevitably by the medley played during their cameo in Titanic, Special Reserve offers a spirited introduction to the pride of Celtic Santa Monica.
AllMusic Review by Robert L. Doerschuk