Cheryl Reid O'Hagan,
The Darkest Midnight
(Sunnyday, 1995)

Cheryl Reid O'Hagan from Nova Scotia started her musical career as a piano graduate and folk singing champion. Today she is known as "Nova Scotia's Harp Lady" and performs in concert halls as well as for weddings and memorial services. She recorded most songs of her album The Darkest Midnight in two nights at All Saints Cathedral in Halifax, NS. Thus the 14 tracks, mostly traditional clerical songs or carols, create a beautiful and meditative ambience.

The CD features songs and instrumental tracks from all over Europe. Starting from the land of the Basque we travel to the French region of Provence, make a stop in Germany with an ancient melody from the 14th century and the words of M. Praetorius, and finally come to the British Isles with songs and tunes from England, the Isle of Man, Wales, the Hebrides and Ireland.

The title track, "The Darkest Midnight," is a traditional Wexford Irish song marvelously interpreted by O'Hagan in a cappella style. It is followed by my favourite song, "Taladh an Leinbh Losa," a Christ child lullaby from the Hebrides isle of South Uist. The hauntingly beautiful Gaelic singing is accompanied by the Celtic harp, glockenspiel, wind chimes and Jon Goodman on uillean pipes. Goodman also plays the pennywhistle on the lovely Irish song "Come, Buy My Nice Fresh Ivy." Last but not least I'd like to mention O'Hagan's self-crafted song "Mary, Mary, Who You Be?" which features an interesting arrangement with Celtic harp, shaker, finger cymbals and Harjit Seyan on tabla. It is a wonderful song with very strong and intense singing. The New Year's Day carol "Hail Reign a Fair Maid" is an ancient Welsh poem brought to music by O'Hagan.

O'Hagan has produced a wonderful collection of songs, and her devotion as performer, arranger and songwriter is certainly an inspiration for the listener. The choice of songs, O'Hagan's beautiful voice, the Celtic harp and the guest musicians make the CD something special and not the usual Christmas fare.

review by
Adolf Goriup

27 October 2007

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