If you've channel surfed the TV at all in recent months, you know doubt have stumbled onto Celtic Woman, an angelic group of Irish singers who have been all over PBS in particular. The phenomenally popular group, which includes Chloe, Meav, Mairead and Orla, recently added soprano Hayley Westenra. They frankly sing wonderfully and Mairead's fiddle adds a lilting sparkle to their work, as can be heard on "Granuaile's Dance."
But this is really geared toward those who like their Celtic music big and over-produced, sort of like "Riverdance." "A New Journey" frequently comes across as something like a blend between the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Meat Loaf with a brogue. The ghastly version of "Beyond the Sea," might make Bobby Darin wake from the dead, and their choice of material such as "Over the Rainbow," and "Scarborough Fair," might trigger a tear or two among sentimentalists but it's hardly inspired.
The singers are better when they keep it simple and pretty straight, such as during the piano ballad "The Blessing," or the harp-backed "Carrickfergus." Celtic Woman performs April 17 & 18 at the Orpheum Theatre.
KEVIN O'HARE, NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Kevin O'Hare might be more impressed if he watches the DVD!
Funny how you found that before I did, but I can argue that I don't get that newspaper. However I must say that the reviewers for our papers here don't tend to like anything. You inspired me to look into the other city of the Twin Cities and see what I could find. It came from Denver Colorado, but was in St. Paul's paper. This one made me even more mad!
So I shall leave you with the review found in St. Paul's Pioneer Press. www.pioneerpress.com (you can't get to the story unless you have registered)
"A New Journey," Celtic Woman, Modern Irish Pop, Manhattan **½ Little Celtic subtlety, much Disney
Celtic Woman sounds as if Disney tried to make a stage musical based on the life of Mary Kate Danaher, Maureen O'Hara's character in the John Wayne flick "The Quiet Man."
It sounds silly, but note: People love silly, which is why PBS-launched Celtic Woman has become a juggernaut. The group's music may use traditional Irish instruments, but they ditch Celtic subtlety in favor of the kind of bombast usually reserved for marching bands and Linda Perry songs.
"A New Journey" really does come off like a stage musical, which makes sense given the group's history with pairing the audio with the video. The covers — "Over the Rainbow" and "Beyond the Sea" — are given fluttery, Christmasy arrangements. The "traditional" pretense throughout the rest of the record is obnoxious and cloying, but when put into the context of a Disney musical — say, a follow-up to "The Little Mermaid" — it's less an annoying facade and more of a realistic stage endeavor.
— Ricardo Baca, Denver Post POP
I have half a mind to tell them to see the show and THEN write the review, or let me write the review for them!
Hello everybody! Here is a short review from the Birmingham Mail. They definitely appreciated Hayley's presence in the group.
Reviews: Successful collision of Celtic and classical 24 March 2007 Birmingham Mail (c) 2007 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
CELTIC WOMAN: A New Journey VERDICT: *****
The female five piece are joined on their new album by New Zealand's singing sensation Hayley Westenra whose voice, which has markedly matured over the past couple of years, combines beautifully on mainstream standards like Beyond The Sea and Over The Rainbow. She helps broaden the palette so, as well as Irish favourites Caledonia and At The Ceili, classical tunes Lascia Ch'io Pianga and Vivaldi's Rain are included.
Hello Mark, I have access to a wide database thanks to my University. I'm supposed to use it essentially for academic research and financial reports but typing "Hayley Westenra" in the search engine from time to time can't really harm anyone, don't you think?
For anybody in the London area, there are still a few copies of both versions of this CD available in HMV at 150 Oxford Street, the branch between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road. The standard version is £18, and the de-luxe boxed edition with bonus tracks and Claddagh charm is £24.
THE first impression I had of Celtic Woman (by looking at the cover) was it was just another of those all-woman pop outfits. How wrong I was.
Instead, the beautiful and soothing vocals of Lisa, Chloe, Orla, Mairead, Meav and Hayley have me listening to the album repeatedly. The musical combination here is nothing new but it works a charm. The background music consists of traditional Celtic instruments like the fiddle and tin whistles, and there is a choir and full symphony orchestra providing restrained new-age touches. It is all topped off by the powerful, tasteful vocals of the ladies.
The album starts off with the uplifting Sky and the Dawn and the Sun. Caledonia (the romanticised name of Scotland) tells of a person’s love for their country while The Voice is a song about Ireland’s past. These beautiful melodies make me want to close my eyes and imagine those beautiful places.
Other songs such as The Prayer, Newgrange, Dulaman and Mo Ghile Mear are not too shabby either. I feel, however, that the girls try too hard in Scarborough Fair and Over the Rainbow.
You don’t have to be a folk fan to enjoy this, if you even like the music of the Corrs, you should get this album.[/size][/quote] Richard
I ordered this album just over a week ago from HMV Online only to find that they are having difficulties getting supply. Whether this is the fault of HMV purchasing or not I really don't know but is suprising for such a recent release. I did however get an email yesterday apologising for the delay.
There have been problems in obtaining this DVD in the UK since it was first released in America. We believe it is because of the regional coding. Although it is actually Region 0 (which plays anywhere), it says it is Region 1. Consequently, HMV and other stores returned all their stock.
It is currently available at amazon.co.uk stating "Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV)". Several members of this forum (including me) have bought a copy from various sources and nobody has reported any difficulty in playing them.
I did - with HMV as well. Their email about the delay is standard procedure. They had problems with their suppliers for the CD and DVD. I waited one or two weeks and then decided to cancel my order. I then tried with Amazon.com and all went very well.
I have recently bought this cd having not heard any of Celtic Woman’s music before so here is (I hope) a totally unbiased view of the album.
Overall, I enjoyed it but I found that I had to listen to it several times before I came to this conclusion. Even now however, I am still not sure what it is trying to achieve because pure Celtic (Irish) music it isn’t. There are many tracks which certainly can be classified as Celtic (or Irish folk as I prefer to call them) but others border on “pop”, even “easy listening” genre. Perhaps you could say it is Celtic/Pop crossover!
Anyway, here goes (I put an “H” against the title where Hayley participates) :
The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun (H) – This opening track certainly sets the scene for the album and truly reflects what CW is all about. There are flavours of both Enya and Riverdance here but that is a compliment. Gets the blood moving and the legs jiggling!!
The Prayer – A very pleasant song from Chloe which, if you shut your eyes you could imagine that you are listening to a track from the latest Disney movie. Yes, I liked this one but found it hard to find the Celtic link. Lush strings in the background.
Newgrange – Back to the Celtic feel with Orla but a bit dull and over-produced.
Over the Rainbow (H) – Brave attempt by the girls and well sung but can’t help thinking of the Judy Garland version. Would like to hear All Angels have a go at this one.
Granuaile’s Dance – Instrumental with Mairead on fiddle. Enjoyable foot-stomping Irish tune. Fine playing.
The Blessing – Solo from Lisa. One of my favourites on the album but, again more easy listening than Celtic. Would love to hear Hayley sing this song.
Dulaman – Brilliant from Meav. If this track doesn’t get you up and dance then nothing will!! I haven’t seen the dvd yet but wouldn’t be surprised if this was a show-stopper.
Beyond the Sea (H) – Hayley opens this track with great promise but oh dear, oh dear the arrangement is very disappointing. Bobby Darin would turn in his grave if he heard it. Sorry, but it doesn’t work for me.
The Last Rose of Summer – Sung by Maev but for the first few bars I thought it was Hayley (I had to check again the sleeve notes and am still not convinced. Unless my hearing is failing me I think this is a duet. Someone put me out of my misery!!). A beautiful song and one of my favourites on the album.
Caledonia - A pleasant song from Lisa and well sung. This could definitely be classified as Celtic/Pop crossover!
Lascia Ch’io Pianga (H) – Great delivery from Hayley. Production as good if not better than on Odyssey but I can’t understand why it is on this album. Carrickfergus – A traditional Irish folk song from Orla and probably my favourite on the album. Would love to hear Hayley record this one.
Vivaldi’s Rain – Brave rendition from Chloe but doesn’t get anyway near Hayley’s ‘River of Dreams’.
The Voice – Pleasant Celtic ditty from Lisa but a bit repetitive. Riverdance theme throughout.
Scarborough Fair (H) – I much prefer the arrangement on Odyssey but, of course well sung! The attempt to turn this traditional English folk song into a Celtic number doesn’t quite work and the lush strings are totally unnecessary.
Mo Ghile Mear (H) – A suitable end to the album with all the girls participating. Very enjoyable Celtic song with a big production. Backing singers though not really necessary.
So that’s it. Hayley’s involvement with this ‘project’ has obviously been successful and enjoyable for her. She is more than an adequate replacement for Maev.
However, I hope that Hayley sees this venture as a worthwhile event in her career but now moves onto further develop her solo career. I really can’t see what else Hayley could get out of the relationship in the future that would benefit her career in the long term.
In summary, the album is very enjoyable and really has a mixture of themes beyond what the Celtic music purist would like. But why not?