It’s that time again! Celtic Thunder, my favorite beloved Irish-y international phenomenon (that’s just for my husband), has released a new CD/DVD and I’m here to tell you about it.
Voyage, filmed during their Fall 2011 tour, includes new pieces as well as some old fan favorites. This year, the cast has been shaken up and thrown in the blender a little bit. Former members Paul Byrom and Damian McGinty have both left the group to go on to other avenues of their career. Ryan Kelly, resident bad boy, left the group and then came back at the last minute. Longtime adorable guitarist Neil Byrne and the young Emmet Cahill slid into the spots left vacant by Paul and Damian, while 13-year-old boy soprano Daniel Furlong joined the cast as a special guest.
Are you confused yet? Well, catch up… you’ve got to be on your toes for this one.
In this collection in particular, it is definitely the ensemble numbers that really stand out. “Dulaman” is a quickly enunciated Irish folk song… that is apparently about seaweed. No, don’t stop reading. I promise it’s good. It’s sung in Gaelic, and I don’t understand a single word (which helps you ignore the fact that you’re listening to a really cool song about seaweed), but it’s gorgeous and exciting, and worth a listen JUST to listen to George roll his R’s. Who said algae was boring?
|Maid of Culmore|
There are two really beautiful ensemble ballads, and I just couldn’t decide which one I like more. “Song for Mira” is on the CD (but not the DVD) and includes young Daniel, but not Ryan, while “The Maid of Culmore” (on both products) includes Ryan, but not Daniel. Both of the songs showcase beautiful complex harmonies that shift and fade and leave you with breathless sighs of awe. I’m inclined to lean toward liking “Maid of Culmore” better, simply because… well, if you aren’t already in love with Keith Harkin, you will leave the song being putty in his big handsome hands. He has an absolutely gorgeous voice. My only complaint with the song is the legions of boyband-style screams that accompany the arrival of each lad on stage. It’s a soft song… and the screaming definitely detracts.
|Keith and Emmet|
Equally as delightful and maybe even more so because they provide some much-needed lightness to a product that sometimes leans towards the somber, Celtic Thunder also performs a couple very upbeat ensemble numbers in “7 Drunken Nights”(CD) and the “Clancy Brothers Medley”(DVD). The former, “7 Drunken Nights,” is what I can only imagine as an Irish pub song, and very funny. This was a late addition to the tour last year, and so the audio appears to be a live-on-stage recording, as opposed to one done in studio. “The Clancy Brothers Medley” is just what it sounds like, and features all cast members, including Daniel. It’s honestly a whole lot of fun… lots of comedic staging, fun harmonies, hamming it up. I never thought I would find myself extolling the virtues of Keith so much, but he honestly gets more and more natural and engaging every time I see him.
|Neil in Lagan Love|
As is customary, in addition to the ensemble numbers, each cast member also sings a couple solo songs as well. Newcomer Emmet Cahill is not only handsome as all get-out, but sports a classically-tinged baritone voice that is beautiful but well-controlled. He doesn’t make you feel like you’re stuck at the opera, and he had me at “hello,” or actually at “t-under.” He sings a breathtaking version of “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears” that actually gave me chills. “Lagan Love” is a song that was sung in one of Celtic Thunder’s previous releases, Storm, but was reworked for Voyage where it honestly works much better. In this version, Neil sings the lead for the entire song, and is supported with touching backvocals by Ryan and Emmet. Beautiful stuff, I’m telling you. One of Neil’s other solos, “Past the Point of Rescue,” would have also made my list of “YOU MUST HEAR THESE” were it not for an instrumental section in the middle that just seems to go on for too long. Emmet and Neil are fast becoming my favorites.
For some inexplicable reason, EVERY SINGLE release has Keith singing an ‘80s love ballad, and I NEVER like them. Keith sang “I Wanna Know What Love Is” for so many tours that I was seriously considering bringing pineapples to throw at the stage if I had to listen to it one more time. I am surprised to find that I actually kind of like his version of Air Supply’s “All Out of Love.” I KNOW! Well, except for that part in the middle where he sings “What are you thinking of?” 90 gazillion times. If you have to ask her THAT many times, she is NOT going to tell you. But, it wasn’t that bad. And I know that doesn’t sound like high praise, but for this kind of song from me… it so is. Again, with the Keith love.
|Girls, Girls, Girls|
Oh, the DVD also includes this bonus footage documentary about the filming. It's probably around half an hour? There's quite a lot in it. I thought some of the backstage stuff was interesting, but it feels really long. I think that plugged-in fans will probably like it, but I found myself fast-forwarding through a lot of it. If the 4700 other shirtless photos of himself that Keith sprinkles around the internet haven't satiated your fancy, then you girls will want to watch it at least once.
Regardless, I love my Irish lads and lone Scot… They’re fun, they’re talented, they’re handsome. And they want you to buy them, too! Well, their music. Not so much THEM.