The Phantom Tollbooth

The Prince of Glory: Celtic Expressions of Worship 4
Artist: Various
Label: Kingsway Music
Length: 11 tracks/43:46 minutes
Ten years after Dave Fitzgerald and Dave Bainbridge re-awoke interest within the Christian music community in the Celtic Christian period through the formation of Iona, the flow of worship albums supposedly inspired by Celtic traditions continues to increase. Featuring a number of Iona members past and present, this particular series has a credibility attached to it that many others lack.
The overall mood of the recording is extremely ambient, with the pipe, whistle, and woodwind contributions of Fitzgerald, Troy Donockley, and Mike Haughton tending to dominate. The presence of some programmed drums is a  little irritating, given the attendance of a percussionist like Terl Bryant on many tracks, but this programming is usually too subtle to be of any great annoyance. Generally, the music doesn't have the dynamism or sense of mood that's found on Iona albums, but neither does it have the  manufactured gloss that too often plagues similar releases.
The songs are a collection of hymns and worship tunes performed in a Celtic idiom. Familiar musical phrases often slip through, and the new interpretations manage to achieve different degrees of success. You may find, however, that you do not pay a great deal of attention to each particular song; it is the relaxing aura of the recording that will be most obvious - and that will draw many listeners.
Either as an interesting change from the usual background music, or as an aid to meditation, this album will find its niche. It brings little that is new to the plethora of Celtic albums populating Christian bookstores, but it is somewhat above average in their ranks.
James Stewart (6/13/99)