The first of two CDs to complement their debut DVD, Celtic Thunder's first music album, entitled simply "Celtic Thunder", was released in 2008. It is a mostly somber, but not depressing, collection of music seemingly intended to showcase the stars of the new show at their most poignant and very best. It really is a fantastic CD-- I'm hard-pressed to find many songs that I don't like, though of course there are certain ones that I like more than others.
The album starts off with Heartland, an ensemble song that has opened many Celtic Thunder shows over the years. And for good reason! Anchored by a powerful chorus in Gaelic, Heartland chronicles a tumultuous journey and a plea to God for help in the midst of peril. With strong music and full harmonies, Heartland sets the stage for the full masculinity of the Celtic male that Celtic Thunder strives to embody.
Keith Harkin leads off the solos with his rendition of Mountains of Mourne. This is a lovely folk tune that is absolutely pleasant to listen to. Keith's excellent guitar prowess and vocals which allow the lilt of his accent to show through combine to make this a simple but truly lovely song.
Long one of my most-loved songs, Brothers in Arms is performed by Ryan Kelly. Missing is the energetic pizazz that is signature to so many of Ryan's performances, but in its place, Ryan layers rich and powerful poignancy to create a song of soft but strong emotional power. It's a side of his talent that isn't showcased as often as I'd like, and for that reason perhaps, this song consistently ranks in my top favorites.
Not to be missed is the bonus track of Damian McGinty singing Puppy Love. Simply put, it's adorable. This is the song that made me fall in doting love with young Damian. He's darling, he's sweet, and he will put a giant smile in your face.
Paul Byrom sings lead in this beautiful predominantly-acappella version, but the harmonies in the chorus are inspiring.
George Donaldson's The Old Man is one of his most-loved ballads. The depth and warmth of George's brogue really comes through in this song, working together to create a feeling that is both sad and emotionally rich.
Both of Paul's solos, Remember Me and She, are beautiful and excellent vehicles to showcase Paul's classical talent. Both songs allow Paul's romantic tenor persona to shine through, beginning with gentle tenderness and growing into astounding power.
What I Didn't Love
Keith's Lauren and I, his own songwriting feat, isn't really my favorite. To be fair, I "had" to listen to it about 97 billion times in a row back in 2008 (I wish I was exaggerating) and this endless exposure might have something to do with my apathy. There's really nothing wrong with it; it's just consistently tied for my least favorite of his solos in the original Celtic Thunder show.
If You Can Only Afford Three Tracks
- Mountains of Mourne
- Ireland's Call (unreviewed here, but a great fun ensemble anthem)