Heather Dale,
The Road to Santiago
(Amphisbaena, 2005)

For her fifth CD, The Road to Santiago, Canadian Celtic/folk singer-songwriter Heather Dale drew inspiration from a journey across Canada. The result is a thoughtful collection of songs inspired by her journey and love of history.

An artist who often is compared to Loreena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan, Dale has devoted much of her music to retelling the legends of King Arthur. This CD shows her getting more adventurous, combining elements of Celtic, folk, jazz, Spanish and Greek styles. Her musical strength is her ability to combine great storytelling with beautiful melodies.

The CD opens with "Hero," a Celtic/folk song about social activism. "The Greyhound" has the Celtic/maritime flavor of a shipwreck and includes some great fiddle playing. "The Road to Santiago" might remind us of the Celtic/Spanish connections in Galicia as it looks at the travels of pilgrims.

"Hunter" is a beautiful love song that includes some nice strings, piano and classical guitar. One of the CD's best tracks is the hauntingly beautiful song" Adrift," which is an old Irish tale about a man who leaves Ireland but, convinced that not all is well at home, returns and sets foot on the land, discovering nothing is wrong, ages centuries and loses all hope of returning to all that he has left behind. Dale pays a nice tribute to Canadian folk legend Stan Rogers with a lively cover of "Flowers of Bermuda," which is one of his many songs about maritime life.

"Up into the Pear Tree" is based on a book of 14th-century Italian folk tales, a fun, medieval witty love song. "Confession" comes from the tales of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, who reflects back on her life as she ran away to join the band of outlaws. The CD closes with "Sedna," a story from the the native Inuit mythology of northern Canada about a father and daughter caught in a storm. It includes some Inuit throat singers and native percussion.

The Road to Santiago was produced by Paul Mills, best known for his work with Stan Rogers, Natalie McMaster and Tanglefoot. Heather Dale's great songwriting and musical talents, combined with her love for history and storytelling, make this another very enjoyable CD.

by Dave Townsend
15 April 2006

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