Sunday, September 27, 2009

CD Review: Orla Fallon's 'Distant Shore'

Distant Shore

Orla Fallon, of Celtic Woman fame, succeeds with her second solo album, Distant Shore. The Irish maiden soothes the soul with a pristine voice backed by some contemporary choral arrangements and mostly modern instrumentation. The opening track's piano and percussion arrangements remind one of Celine Dion's song, "A Brand New Day", or Nina Gordon's "Tonight and The Rest of My Life". The ethereal, ambient elements and touch of piano and harp make Distant Shore soar into areas previously unexplored by other artists in the New Age/Celtic genre. The rather pop-focused, "Dancing In The Moonlight", is a sweet song about love that is sure to make feet happy with dancing maneuvers. The songs are primarily sung in English, though one track is in Gaelic and another track showcases a harp medley. Fans of Celtic Woman, Gaelic singing, and New Age/Irish music will especially love it. Moreover, Orla's second solo album is accessible for everyone and is only as 'distant' as your nearest music store. The tide is rising and Distant Shore is on top. It's that good. ~ Matthew Forss

1 comment:

Roger said...

Orla Fallon’s Distant Shore is a delightful and uplifting album for me. I am a pastor with experience in choral singing. I have appreciated Orla’s singing and harp playing for several years. Unless my memory fails me, she was a member of Ireland’s magnificent ensemble Anuna prior to joining Celtic Woman, as were Meav ni Mhaolchatha and Lynn Hilary. Michael McGlynn, Anuna’s demanding leader, chooses only the best singers.

I compare Orla to the great Kathy Mattea. Kathy expanded her musical scope from “Country” to “World” when she visited Scotland to explore her Celtic roots, and the result was the inspiring CD Roses. Orla came in the opposite direction from Ireland to Nashville, and gives expression to the common heritage shared by “Celtic,” “Bluegrass” and “Country” music. If Orla and Kathy ever collaborate musically, as I fondly hope they will, their exquisite voices, as well as Orla’s harp and Kathy’s guitar, will complement each other perfectly.

I never thought I would hear a version of “Simple Love” which would equal Alison Krauss’ for sheer beauty and depth of feeling, but Orla has done it. “Hard Times Come Again No More” is one of Stephen Foster’s most powerful songs and is as socially relevant today as it was in the 1850s. Orla has scored a musical triumph with it. I’d love to hear Orla sing Foster’s moving lullaby “Slumber, My Darling,” which Alison Krauss elegantly recorded with accompaniment by no less than Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O’Connor. Orla and Alison would create another thrilling musical collaboration, both vocally and instrumentally. Fiddle and harp are intended to be played together, especially by musicians of these ladies’ caliber.