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Whisper in the Wild Water
Artist: Maire Brennan
Label: Word
Length: 13 tracks/57.00 minutes

More than a quarter century has passed since Clannad first opened the book of modern celtic-influenced music, but still Maire Brennan is in its pages. This, her fourth solo release and her second to be distributed into the Christian market, is a well conceived development on Perfect Time.

The music here still has the distinctive modern-Celtic sound which has been so popular over recent years. Brennan's vocals remain as ethereal as ever, drifting softly between English and Gaelic, but the drums are less artificial and the arrangements tighter than on
this album's predecessor, leading to a more substantial offering.

Instrumentally everything is kept fairly simple, but contributes to a greater whole. Brennan plays keyboards and her familiar Irish harp, while a supporting cast contributes fiddles, guitars, bass, and all manner of other elements.

Five year-old Paul Jarvis (Brennan's son) intones in Gaelic over the song "Peacemaker," a factor which could easily have caused the song to become "cute," but thankfully that is averted and this element simply adds to the poignancy.

The lyrics are generally poetic and Christ-centered. The title track, "Whisper to the Wild Water," talks of the constancy of God's presence within a world that is constantly changing.

I heard your voice
Whisper to the wild water.
Step by step
Slowly enter

Change the words
Don't change the meaning
Change the hands
Don't change the healing

Musically this is perhaps the most up-tempo number, with a fairly driving note to the vocals. It is not the most succesful for it, seeming to lose direction a couple of times, but the delayed guitar blends well with the keyboards and vocals at the song's highpoints.

The album closes with a simple rendition of the hymn "Be Thou My Vision," sung in Gaelic using the same translation as Iona used on their Journey Into the Morn release. Since Iona recorded it, that song has appeared, usually in its English form, on so many recordings that it's in danger of overexposure. But Brennan keeps it simple, while investing a subtle power with her restrained emotion over the course of the song's two minutes. It is a fitting ending.

A definite improvement on its predecessor, this album should see Maire Brennan continue to develop her profile within Christian music circles, while still pleasing Clannad fans. It has its weak points, but the chapter this opens should be an interesting one in the ongoing story.

James Stewart 10/16/1999

 

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