Sunday, November 28, 2010

Celtic Corner: A Special Holiday Edition

It's going to be a wonderful holiday season filled with Orla Fallon. Orla was one of the founding members of Celtic Woman and has since left to pursue her own solo career, and rightfully so. She outgrew Celtic Woman, as she and Meav (she only needs one name) were the most developed vocally, incorporating their own Irish lilts into the beauty of their instruments. While Orla's first solo album apart from Celtic Woman left me a little cold and disappointed, I find that her holiday albums are spectacularly Orla. One is Orla Fallon's Celtic Christmas, which aired on PBS as a special as well, with special guests Vince Gill, David Archuleta, Anuna, and Meav Ni Mhaolchatha.

Celtic Christmas is reminiscent of Celtic Woman but more traditionally Irish. This is what Christmas music should sound like: ethereal and sophisticated. Orla teams up with former Celtic Woman friend Meav on "Do You Hear What I Hear," where their voices complement each other perfectly, reflecting the purity of the song's intended message.  She joins Orla on "O Holy Night" for the DVD. Vince Gill joins Orla on "Little Drummer Boy," which I tend to not take seriously as a song after The Office. Orla and Vince's sounds are so different, but they work well together, even with perfect harmony. Vince even adopts the Orla's signature hilly notations. On the DVD, Orla sings this with Mark Wills. David Archuleta guests on "Oiche Chiuin/Silent Night," where Orla sings in Gaelic and David in English, alternating verses. He also guests on the DVD's "Patapan." My favorite track is "A' Soalin (Soul Cake)," which Orla sings herself. It's up-tempo and light-hearted, something we don't get much from Orla. "Bells of Christmas" is beautiful and flowing, with moments reminiscent of Enya. Unfortunately the CD does not have some songs form the DVD unless you get it from PBS, which includes a duet with Jim Brickman and "Here We Come A-Wassailing." I've yet to see the show, but the CD is superb. I'm stoked to hear her version of "Here We Come..."

Winter, Fire, and Snow is undeniably Enya-like, but with more of an Irish lilt than Enya typically has and an Irish zest in the tune. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" has a beautiful staccato melody that I can easily see a traditional Irish or English folk dance performed along with it. "Bells of Christmas" again appears on this album but longer. "In the Bleak Midwinter" glistens like newly fallen snow, gentle and soft. Orla's voice suits it well. But "Winter, Fire, and Snow" is my favorite, right behind "God Rest..." Orla's voice is like a warm blanket on a cold winter's evening, but it holds a certain ancient element. I feel like I'm in a castle in 400 AD listening to her.

You might as well get the album from PBS to get those extra songs, unlike I did. Grrr. Now I have to spend more money to get my Orla fix, my very favorite Celtic Woman.

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