Sunday, October 28, 2012

Celtic Thunder Take Me Home CD Review

In the summer of 2009, Celtic Thunder followed the success of their premiere products (The Show, Act II) with a spring and summer tour of Take Me Home. This tour took took many of the favorites from the original Celtic Thunder tour and added to them with various new songs. The Take Me Home CD is an audio accompaniment representing those additions, containing tracks that were heard on the tour as well as a few additional songs that have never been performed live.
Take Me Home is definitely a quality addition to your Celtic Thunder library, showcasing predominantly upbeat solos, harmony-rich ensemble tunes, and a bonus two instrumentals from the talented Celtic Thunder Band.

The Great

Of particular note is the ensemble's Green Fields of France. This is a gorgeous track with delicately beautiful harmonies. Celtic Thunder has never performed this track live, which is a terrible shame. Their tender performance will leave you breathless, I promise.
500 Miles has become one of George Donaldson's signature solo songs, having been performed in virtually every Celtic Thunder tour since its initial inclusion. This is probably the first time that fans were really exposed to how fun and energetic George can be when given the right music.  Upbeat and delightful!
Ryan Kelly scores on Take Me Home with two fantastic solo pieces. First, Every Breath You Take is a great cover and a wonderful addition to the Ryan/Zara/Paul love triangle song set. It doesn't vary much in style from The Police's original version, but it's an excellent fit for Ryan's vocal strengths. Second, Midnight Well makes its initial audio appearance.  Later showcased in Celtic Thunder's musical theater-esque Storm, Midnight Well is a great vehicle for Ryan to rake his way through. Sexy and provocative!
You Raise Me Up, possibly Paul Byrom's strongest vocal performance with Celtic Thunder, will knock you back into your seat. It is a lovely rendition, combining heartfelt tenderness with amazing vocal power that is sure to leave you in awe.

The Good

Steal Away is a repeat ensemble song from the first Celtic Thunder release, but this is a new version with both Damian and George taking the lead in turn.  Instead of a predominantly acappella version, this one is also accompanied by George on guitar. It lacks the depth of harmony that was present in the first version, but with Damian's voice warming from boy to man, it's quite nice in its own way, too.
Homes of Donegal is a nice Irish ballad performed by Keith Harkin. It showcases strong accompaniment with Uilleann pipes and even Keith himself on guitar.
Both of Damian's solos on Take Me Home settle around the "delightful and sweet." Halfway between The Show's "boy" and not quite to the manly voice he eventually settles into, Damian plays it safe with two pop-ish Neil Sedaka songs. Breaking Up is Hard to Do is probably the stronger of the two and perfect for the lovesick teenaged girl to swoon over.

The Skippable

Paul Byrom's Because We Believe is just one that I tend to skip.  It's simply not a track that I enjoy, hovering around feeling slightly pretentious and maybe just tries too hard.

Wichita Lineman, performed by Keith Harkin, is another one that I just can't get through. Fans of the song love the romanticism of the chorus, but I simply can't stomach the stylistic runs that go on ad nauseum through the last minute of the track.

If You Can Only Afford Three Tracks

  1. Green Fields of France
  2. You Raise Me Up
  3. 500 Miles

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