The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection [Alternate Version]

by: Celtic Woman

The modern Celtic music revival shuddered in the wake of Michael Flatley's overbearing Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, which peppered the landscape to the point of overkill. While the more traditional beat of Celtic music remained, and remains alive and well, often nestled deep in its own wooded niche, what the general public received was increasingly more watered down and less palatable than anything before. However, there was a bright light within the storm when the fantastic Celtic Woman ensemble hove into view in 2005, to help revitalize Celtic music for a public that had little to choose from. Ethereal, ephemeral, spirited, and incredibly talented, this sextet of singers and musicians sparks fire through the beat of its songs, soars with complex and octave-defying vocals, and provides a remarkable showcase through the use of contemporary and traditional Irish instrumentation. Under the musical direction of David Downes, this compilation is a delicious sampling of songs with musical arrangements that never fight for attention amidst the pure vocals, but instead provide a backdrop that ultimately allows the entire thing to be cohesive and classy. While there isn't anything at all unexpected among the contents of The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection, the comprehensive set is highlighted by the beauty of songs from "Pie Jesu" and "You Raise Me Up" to the majestic sweep of "The Sky and the Sun and the Dawn" and on to the toe-curling, redoubtable bliss of "The Voice" and "DĂșlaman." "Danny Boy" is here, and feels like an overtly commercial cop-out, but the deluxe CD package makes up for that with the inclusion of bonus tracks including "Mo Ghile Mear" and "Spanish Lady," both recorded live at Slane Castle. Greatest Journey is a competent collection, a solid introduction to the group for the novice, and a fantastic mix for the fan. [Manhattan issued an alternate version in 2008.] ~ Amy Hanson

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