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Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Celtic Lullabies

(World Music Network; US: 26 Jun 2012; UK: 25 Jun 2012)

This, like World Music Network’s other lullaby compilations, is a baby album done with adult thoroughness. A rundown of the Celtic diaspora in the booklet is short but intelligent and the music itself goes beyond the base requirement of foggy celestial to stupify the dear one until it shuts up. The pace is slow, and there are many strings and voices, different voices, different strings, violins sometimes, harps sometimes, and the unnaccompanied Glasgow Hebridean Choir sneaking through “All Through the Night”, friction-free as singing glass.


Alan Stivell sings the same song as “An Hirañ Noz”, playing the Breton harp whose music he helped bring back into the European public’s eye during the folk wave of the ‘70s. Tommy Sands’ voice is a piece of grinning roughage though his guitar is gentle. “Nighty-night,” he sighs evilly. “Don’t let the bugs bite.” Strum strum. These musicians usually play for the grown-ups—there’s Altan, Flook, and excellent American-Irish fiddler Liz Carroll—but these are croonier songs. It would work as well if you renamed it The Rough Guide to the Soft Bits.

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