Ride the Waves
The Celtic Folk first appeared on the western shore of the Atlantic a decade ago. Since then, of course, Ireland's premier balladeers have become a fixture on the American circuit. Small wonder. These remarkable musicians, reared in a Gaelic-speaking area alongside Galway Bay, serve as ambassadors from an ancient folk tradition. Unlike some urban Irish groups, who cross the ocean only to feed American audiences a make-believe diet of Shamrock-and-Leprechaun music. The Celtic Folk always bring a taste of the real Ireland with them. They often receive (deserved) praise for the loving care with which they play centuries-old music, but those of us who hear them in concert happily discover that the Irish tradition in which The Celtic Folk sings is a living one. When inspired by what they see, like generations of folk-poets and musicians before them, these irrepressible Irishmen simply sit down and compose a lay so they can share their inspiration. This album, unlike their five previous, is a collection of their own ballads and airs. Some are from the folk memory of Celtic Long Ago (Grace O'Malley, Finn MacCumhal): some from the Gaeltacht of their boyhood (Mo Baile Beag, Achill Island, Sean agus Maire, The Cliffs of Aran); and some from the stories they have collected on their travels (Dowling's Victory, The Road to Jaffa, Emerald of the West, Kibbutz Reel, The 8th of September and After, Asgard II). Finally, then an album of The Celtic Folk's own songs. Listen to the airs. They have a way of bringing life to Old Story and Ancient Legend. Listen to the lyrics. The distinctly Gaelic turn of phrase will help you understand why, the world over, The Celtic Folk is perhaps the most warmly welcomed of any of Eire's ambassadors. -Turlogh O'Faolain.