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Album Review: A Celtic Dream
Michele McLaughlin
Cover image of the album A Celtic Dream by Michele McLaughlin
A Celtic Dream
Michele McLaughlin
2008 / Michele McLaughlin
52 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Celtic Dream is pianist/composer Michele McLaughlin’s tenth album and was inspired by a recent trip to Ireland, the land of most of her family’s ancestors. Many of the pieces have an infectious energy and upbeat drive, while others are more subdued and reflective, creating a rich palette of moods and musical colors. In her notes about the individual pieces, McLaughlin tells the stories behind the music, giving a bit of history about the places she visited as well as aural illustrations for some of the Celtic legends (these notes are also on her page on CD Baby). The melodies of all of the pieces are excellent and very expressive, but McLaughlin’s left hand tends to get stuck into a repetitive pattern. This is an effective device from time to time, but can wear a little thin with too much usage. Most people won’t hear it, but my piano teacher’s ears get rather distracted by the repetition. Overall, this is McLaughlin’s strongest work to date.

A Celtic Dream begins with “Summer Solstice,“ a bright and sprightly piece that celebrates the longest day of the year and the sun’s journey through that day. Energetic and joyful, it sets the stage for the rest of the album. “Slainte” is a Gaelic toast to good health, and this little piece seems to celebrate just about anything and everything - a delightful confection. The title track slows down the pace to more of a ballad and is one of the more beautiful tracks on the CD. My favorite piece is “Irish Rain.” Here the repetitive left hand pattern mimics rain falling while the right illustrates the mist that comes with the rain. Mysterious and melancholy, it evokes feelings of longing as well as the chill that comes with a misty rain. “Lament” reminds me of David Nevue and how he often creates strong emotional feelings with utter simplicity in his musical lines. “The Clurichaun” is a lighthearted delight. The Clurichaun is related to The Leprechaun and runs around at night raiding wine cellars. When he finds one he loves, he stays and makes it his home, guarding the cellar forever. A mischievous elf, this piece is full of fun and energy. “For The Lambs” is a tribute to the spring lambs who were free to roam and play in the countryside of Ireland - sweet and joyful. “From Where We Came” is gorgeous and is dedicated to Ireland, McLaughlin’s ancestors, and their rich history. Melodic and very flowing, it’s a lovely tribute. “Carrowkeel” is about the largest passage tomb cemetery in Ireland that dates back to about 5000 BC. Very dark and dramatic, it’s a impressive closing for the album.

A Celtic Dream is quite a musical excursion and rekindles my desire to see Ireland myself. It is available from michelemclaughlin.com, cdbaby.com, and amazon.com. Good stuff!
December 1, 2008
More reviews of Michele McLaughlin albums
Cover image of the album Whisperings Solo Piano Volume 1 by Michele McLaughlin
2011
(contributing artist)