Will Millar & Paul Horn,
Journey of the Celts
(Chacra, 2001)

I picked this CD for review quite by chance, choosing it by name only and knowing nothing of the musicians involved. So you can imagine my surprise at finding how beautiful, haunting -- well, words do little justice to Will Millar and Paul Horn's masterpiece.

The problem with a lot of Celtic CDs being produced today is repetition, so when you find a work that steps a wee bit outside of the traditional, yet still shows a true respect for the past, you have a gem. And that is what Journey of the Celts does. It's a breath of fresh air. Millar and Horn's marvellous compilation of songs traces in notes more eloquently than words the plight of the Irish people at the time of the Great Hunger.

The potato famine is grim history, with so many people dying a slow, ugly death while England turned a blind eye. The fortunate few who had the means to escape left behind a way of life, yet they carried a piece of Ireland with them in their hearts. It was a terrible time, a time of uncertainty, though touched with fleeting moments of joy. All these emotions are captured in the soul-stirring music through the subtle work of these two gentlemen. They draw heavily on Celtic roots, but they're not treading the same old ground. Even their rendition of "Shenandoah" -- giving the whole work its anchor of the Celts' move to the United States -- has a new face. The simple yet stunning work weaves moods and nuances -- the sorrow, the fear, the hopes -- as words can never do.

The history will never be forgotten, and this amazing album spins a potent magic that serves those memories well. Anyone who enjoys Celtic music such as Leahy, Clannad or even more traditional works will want this for their collection so they can play it often. It's pure Celtic magic!

- Rambles
written by DeborahAnne MacGillivray
published 20 September 2003