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Author Topic: Postcards from Ireland - an honest review  (Read 211 times)
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« on: October 29, 2021, 05:15AM »

Hi everyone,
I hope you're all doing ok Smiley I'm listening to the new 'Postcards from Ireland' album right now so I thought I would share my impressions with you...

The Dawning of the Day
I think we've all listened to this at this point, since it was released as a single a few weeks ago. A traditional song, most of us know it as "Raglan Road". The tune is beautiful and the arrangement is nice, although I miss the rich sound that one can expect from previous CW albums. This issue will be present throughout the whole album, so I won't be repeating that for all the songs.

Bonny Portmore
I've always wanted CW to cover a song by Loreena Mckennitt and this was a very good choice. It showcases Megan's voice beautifully and I love the overall sound and arrangement. When the song is all about the melody and lyrics, it's good to keep it not too grand and this one has the right balance of calm and power, if you know what I mean. It would have been perfect if it was just a bit slower, but it's very very good nonetheless. Probably one of the top songs, sounds like something you could have heard in an early album.

Mise Eire
Very slow and emotional songs, entirely sung in Gaelic. I wish it had more harmonies through the entire song, but even like this ii is quite beautiful. Perhaps it would have been better with a solo violin part also. This is probably the only song where Chloe's voice seems in place with the others. The final harmony is very very beautiful, but too short.

Wild Mountain Thyme
This one I quite like, and it was nice to hear it with an arrangement that made it into a march. But, it also was kind of simple and predictable at the beginning. After all these years, there's a high standard that should be honored, especially with such an iconic song. Anyway, the more I listen to it the more it reminds me of the past closing numbers as The Parting Glass and Westering Home, so it's all good. I just wish the vocals were a little bit more refined.

It was interesting to hear CW dueting with a male group and the song is very nice. It has good harmonies, a cool folk sound, nice lyrics. Again, Chloe's voice stands too much here and the key she sings in sounds almost uncomfortable to her (especially in her solo parts).

Down by the Salley Gardens
This is a very popular song for those who know and love Irish music and not exactly new for CW since Meav and Orla sung it in their solo album, so the standards were quite high for me with it. I loved the change in the lyrics, so we hear the story from the woman's perspective. Muirgen's voice is very beautiful and delicate, even in her more lyrical register she does not overdo so I'm not disappointed at all. The orchestral arrangement here is nice, again I would have liked a violin solo by Tara.

Where Sheeps May Safely Graze
For an instrumental piece, this really surprised me in a positive way. I think it's the most classical thing we've ever heard from Tara, almost a little baroque I would say, I almost hear a nod to Handel and Mozart. But at the same time it still retains that celtic folk flavour, it almost sounds like something you could hear in a Lord of the Rings movie in the Shire scenes. I'm not sure it would work in a CW concert as a solo, but since these songs have been recorded for a different kind of special, with no audienca, I think it was a very interesting choice to show us Tara's versatility.
EDIT: I found out this is a quite famous piece by J.S. Bach, lol

Chloe's solo: I'm not surprised they went with a slow pop ballad, since this is a genre she's now more comfortable in. I'm not sure this is very well placed in an album that should be about Ireland, but every CW album has one or two "off topic" songs so it's alright. The song in itself is beautiful and famous, the arrangement is ok. I just wish we could have heard this some years ago, maybe during the Believe era, when Chloe was probably at her best. But, compared to other songs in the album, she's clearly more at ease.

The Lakes of Pontchartrain
This one reminds me a lot of Cavan Girl, a song that I've always wanted CW to cover. I don't know if this one inspired it or the other way around, anyway I'm happy to hear the tune. I'm also happy to hear Megan doing a very different song compared to her other solo, this one definitely more on the folk side, to show us her versatility as well.

May It Be
I was very happy to hear Susan once again and I love the song, Enya is my all time favourite artist. But at the same time I must say I would have preferred something new for Susan. This is new for her in the sense that you would not expect this song from her, but it's not new for CW since it's already been sung by Lisa, by Alex, by Eabha and in group - let alone solo projects. There are many many songs from Enya that express the Irish spirit just as well, so they could have chose something new for CW. I also feel like Susan has received very little trust by the musical directors in the song choices, compared to other girls and that's a shame since she's very versatile. I think she did a very good job on this song and I liked the addition of the choir.

The Calm of the Day / The Banshee
It's a tradition for CW to have one of the violin solo songs as a combination of a slow tune and a lively one. This makes no exception and is quite enjoyable, it's as good as you would expect from Tara. I would have liked 'The Banshee' to be more upbeat, but it's nice to heare something just a little bit different.

The Galway Shawl
I'm a little conflicted about this one. It could have been a very grand number, but it was chosen to play it safe and there's no crescendo, the song doesn't seem to 'grow' as the minutes pass. Also, there's not a huge amount of harmony. Not a memorable one, alas.

Black Is The Colour
This is another song that didn't need to be re-recorded, in my opinion. The 2012 version was absolutely stunning, even for a solo. This one is not bad, but it doesn't have the same passion and power that Lisa Lambe gave us. This is more mysterious, calm and melancholic, which also works, but then, why not choose another song, a new one? And most of all, why put this as the last song with its very subtle ending?

My overall impression of the album is not bad, but there are a few problems to me:
The first one ist he huge difference between the girls with this lineup. While Muirgen's and Megan's voices seems to fit perfectly the CW style, Chloe's voice and singing style has become too different and pop. It just stands out too much (I have a theory to explain this and I'll talk about it in a minute) and doesn't have the same beauty it used to have prior to her departure. Just my opinion, but I don't think it fits CW music anymore. I don't know if she had some type of health issue that may have changed it, or something, but to me she has not improved or kept her singing to the same level of the past.
As for the reason she stands out too much, my theory is that the girls did not record the group songs as an ensemble but separately, which makes it very difficult for everyone to harmonize and blend the voices in an organic way, most especially if your voice and style has changed through the years. And I think the same reason stands for the overall sound of the arrangements. Most of CW arrangements in the past featured big orchestras and/or bands, I think that due to the pandemic this wasn't done this time so the sound is not as rich as it could have been. And there's also the matter of the new musical director and the fact that Meav is not involved anymore, so everything is different now and I think the listeners will notice that.
So, considering all of these things, I think 'Postcards from Ireland' is definetely not the best CW album whatsoever. Again, not bad, but I think everything else we've heard from CW was way much better.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 06:25AM by Excalibur » Logged

Honorary Roadie
Posts: 2,066

Alex Lynn as next guest DVD, Susan LL next Castle

« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2021, 02:53PM »

Thank you for this fab review.
I agree that of the group numbers the only ones I can distinguish is Megan and Chloe. It's also not because I am not familiar with Muirgen yet. I think it be quite different with Mairead C had she remained I can see the etheral and vibe this album would excel her potential same with Eabha so Megan carries it strongly. While Mairead was with Megan and Chloe we could clearly hear the three. I don't want to be only recognizing Muirgen on her solo.

Down the winding road where my Caranua\'s/CW GEMS are!<br /><br /><br />[img]
Kimberly AJ
Choir Member
Posts: 17,474

Chloë Agnew will always be my VBIF forever~!

« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2021, 06:58PM »

I'm looking forward to that showcase! Smiley

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