[26 November 2007]
Born from his radio/TV program A Celtic Sojourn, host Brian O’Donovan began a Christmas concert series in 2003 which has resulted in several album releases including this live project and a corresponding DVD. Consisting both of songs of reflective reverence and tracks marked by an amusing, folksy charm, the album presents fourteen offerings (some traditionally Celtic, some a part of most any Christmas canon) from a diverse lineup of artists. Highlights include the rich harmonies of Navan on “Silent Night”, the soothing vocals of Karan Casey on “This Time Will Pass” and the innocent treatment “In the Bleak Midwinter” receives from O’Donovan’s daughter, Fionnuala. At times, the simplicity of musical arrangements and the informal, collaborative tone create gaps in the artists’ ability to create compelling moments (the DVD fills these gaps nicely with performance footage as well as with stories told in non-musical fashion). Overall, though, the project is an engaging set that is sure to rouse the Christmas spirit at one point or another.