The Phantom Tollbooth

Celtic Christmas
Artists:  Eden's Bridge
Label:  Straightway Records, 1998
Time:  62:00 / 12 tracks

This Christmas album is the fourth in the Celtic series from Eden's Bridge. Again featuring the talents of Troy Donockley from Iona, this album is an improvement on the first two in the series. Attempting to take the listener on a journey from the first Christmas to several others in history, the album contains five originals among its twelve tracks. Musically it is difficult to tell the two forms apart, but the original tracks such as "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" which opens the album, and "Silent Night" benefit from their familiarity.

Although the album's overall feel is certainly Celtic, it is still a little too highly produced for these tastes. Sarah Lacy's vocals are fluid and pure at times, but slightly overbearing at others, especially when she over pronounces some phrases. The musicians are all technically proficient, but fail to break barriers or exude the passion that could come from this music. As in previous projects, the themes are not particularly Celtic in origin, nor does the music overflow with the unwanted sugary sentimentality typical of related releases.

Eden's Bridge have set the fairly difficult task of producing a Celtic Christmas album, but, like its predecessors, this one's Celtic spirit is slightly tarnished by its mainstream objectives. If you enjoyed the first two Eden's Bridge releases, this is not only an improvement, but definitely worth a look. If not, this isn't an essential addition.

By James Stewart (11/2/98)