The Celtic Tenors have been quiet on the recording front recently but now they’re back with a new album called Feels Like Home.
For me it’s a welcome return because one of the things I’ve always liked about this forward thinking group is the way they manage to turn their classically trained voices to songs in all sorts of musical styles and still sound perfectly natural.
All too often, opera singers sound a little stilted when they turn to pop or folk music. Their forced enunciation and perfect vocal style smacks of too much time practising scales and can seem out of place in the less formal musical settings.
That’s more than evident on this latest album. It’s called Feels Like Home after one of the featured tracks and that works fine, but it could have just as easily been named after another of the featured songs, No Frontiers.
No Frontiers is what the three Celtic Tenors – Matthew Gilsenan, James Nelson and Daryl Simpson – are all about.
They glide effortlessly between opera, pop and folk music and they record songs from all over the world.
One of the aims of Feels Like Home is to bring a sense of peace and positivity in these recession stricken times by celebrating the “uplifting music of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, while borrowing a few songs from other cultures along the way”.
James Nelson said. “Our manager asked us to find a theme for the new album. Peace and reconciliation and positivity immediately sprang to mind. That said, we didn’t consciously and aggressively pursue it.
“It just kind of happened by itself. In almost every one of the songs on this record, you’ll find a very positive and hopeful message. It’s even in the way that we sing.
“You have people from three very different and distinct cultures singing in harmony. It makes for a very positive image and a very powerful musical statement.”
Feels Like Home is certainly an uplifting album. The opening track, Going Home, is a thoughtful ballad written by the American folk singer Mary Fahl. That’s followed by a wonderful rendition of Red Haired Mary – an irresistible riot of a song about a young man who gets himself into a fight with a tinker over a coquettish red haired temptress.
From Scotland there’s the classic folk song Westering Home, from Wales the lullaby Suo Gan, and from England there’s the beautiful ballad Dimming of the Day by Richard Thompson. There’s also a great cover of Silent Sunlight by Yusef Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens.
Back to Ireland and there’s a haunting version of She Moved through the Fair, sung acapella with the kind of tight harmonies The Celtic Tenors do so well.
The album features some of Ireland’s most prestigious musical talent including the Radio Teilifis Erin (RTE) Orchestra and the Omagh Commnity Youth Choir.
Feels Like Home is a great collection of songs done with flair and style– one of the best albums by an Irish group this year.