The Phantom Tollbooth

Celtic Worship
Celtic Psalms
Artist: Eden's Bridge
Label: EMI Christian Music/Straightway
Time: 11 tracks / 53.51 and 13 tracks / 55.38

Celtic music is the traditional music of the Scottish and Irish; it has been around for centuries. Even Celtic rock was pioneered at least thirty years ago. It seems strange, then, that it should be greeted as such a new, fresh thing within the Christian market.

Following the success of The Electrics and Iona, the Straightway label have signed Eden's Bridge to produce a series of "Celtic worship" albums, and these are the first two in the series. The vocals are pure, but over-pronounced. The musicians are obviously skilled, and they mix in various sounds similar to some of Iona's more ambient passages.  Overall this seems to be the  point where M.O.R. and Celtic music converge (and I'm not sure that is a good thing). There is very little that is distinctly Celtic musically.  The songs's themes barely touch on Celtic imagery, usually a staple of Celtic music, and the instrumentation lacks the distinctive feel or passion.

These albums will assuredly find a market, but they are neither truly Celtic nor have much personality.  If you are looking for something with nice, relaxing ambient sounds, this may be it. Hopefully the next two releases in the series, which are rumored to explore aspects of Celtic spirituality, will offer more.

By James Stewart (8/14/98)