various artists,
Celtic Spirit
(Lochshore, 2003)

From the beautiful picture of sea and sky on the cover to the final track, Celtic Spirit is a CD that gives you exactly what it says on the label. Here is a distillation of Celtic spirit into 13 tracks from some of the finest performers in Scotland.

All of the tracks on this album are instrumental, but this is not background music. True, it would help the most stressed modern person relax, but the music is too good to allow it simply wash over you.

Tannas opens the CD with a fabulous traditional piece called "The Battle of Waterloo," and if you are not entranced and lost in this track you do not have an ounce of Celtic soul.

That much maligned instrument, the accordion, is used to great effect on the new track "Amy's Waltz" before the tinkling piano appears to give a beautiful combination from the oddly named JCB. (In Ireland, that denotes an excavator.)

Ceol na gCapall (translates as "music of the horses") gives us a fabulous track opening with the piano on "Thoughts of Home" before effectively introducing the pipes. This will raise hairs on your neck.

Bringing out the big guns you get the Igus Orchestra with a haunting melody on "Flower of the Quern." Some years ago James Last and Phil Coulter were producing albums giving traditional music the symphonic treatment. Here it is again and it is magical.

Horses come into play again on the final track as Iron Horse draws us into a dreamy air titled "Glen Tilt," only to open it out into a panorama of sounds that will evoke broad glens, salmon streams and a beautiful blue horizon.

This is a fantastic CD. The music is magic. The playing is inspired and the overall effect is beauty in music.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 25 October 2003