Artist: Maire Brennan
While the platinum-sellers Clannad certainly cannot be called obscure,
somehow the Irish pop/folk pioneers never came to enjoy the name recognition
of Enya, whom everyone knows as a purveyor of those ethereal, spiritually
flavored, Celtic pop treats which have found their way onto radio, into
film soundtracks, commercials, and into the hearts of music-lovers world
wide. The stuff of legends.
Maire Brennan, long time frontwoman of Clannad, and sister to the
diva, has put quite some effort forth heretofore towards solo work, but
only recently did she choose to focus on her (somewhat private) faith,
with her Word Records release, Perfect Time. When asked what led her in
this direction, Brennan speaks of her faith, and her long-term dilemma
over Clannad's somewhat dubious title of "New Age." Never feeling particularly
driven to record a Christian record, she pursued her career with the band,
a career full of twists, turns and surprises. It was only recently that
she was approached by her American manager about a gospel album. Perfect
Time is the result of that meeting.
The album contains a lot of great traditional numbers, many sung
entirely in Maire's native tongue, Gaelic. Curiously, naggingly so, many
of them, such as the title track itself, seem a little "dumbed down," shall
we say? What makes much of the music in the genre so appealing is the mystery
of it all-- am I stretching critical limits in assuming that the folks
over at Word felt they needed to slip a little of the Point of Grace (see
track 5) vibe into the mix in order to sell records at a brisker pace?
Perhaps they believed that an audience weaned on Cindy Morgan would be
unable to fathom the mystery of a more in-depth project? Pity thus, because
there's nothing better than an authentic piece of ethnic artistry, and
what we seem to have here is a mix of American praise and worship, ethereal
pop, and traditional Irish musicianship.
Whatever the case may be with that, there's much to love, such as
the instrumental "Doon Well," a haunting, flowingly elegant number which
recalls the greenery of the British Isles, and while a song on a Maire
Brennan album titled "The Big Rock" seems as great a faux pas as introducing
electric guitar into a Bach chorale, the catchy opener seems fresh, airy
and full of life and hope. The closing instrumental is to be enjoyed as
well. To sum it up, the album is enjoyable, however, here's hoping that
if her career within the CCM field is to continue, she'll give us more
of the creative music she's so good at, (such as tracks like "Whispered
Words" on her solo album Misty Eyed Adventures) and a little less
If you're unfamiliar with the particular genre, this could be a good
introduction to the world of modern Celtic music. Brennan has taken her
own folk heritage, prevalent in the music of Clannad, taken some of the
ethereality of her sister's, and added some contemporary stylings to
create an enjoyable, inspirational piece of work -- congratulations to
the artist. However, if it's original creations, or just plain old traditional
music you're looking for, you're better off picking through your Clannad
By Dave Landsel
There has been quite a bit of coverage of this album in the Christian
press here in Britain. This is probably because Maire is the singer from
Clannad as well as Enya's sister. This, her third solo album, is her first
in the Christian marketplace and follows her appearance on Iona's Journey
Into The Morn.
The vocals kick in immediately as the album opens, which I find
disconcerting. Maire has a beautiful voice, but it seems as if the arrangements
are too weak to make much of that voice. The instrumentation suffers from
the same affliction; it's well-performed but lacks any real personality.
Maire plays the harp and keyboards, while others take uileann pipes, low
whistles, guitars, fiddle, and bodhran - a similar list of instruments
to Iona, but without the interesting arrangements of that band.
This album is not awful, but really doesn't hold my attention for
more than a couple of minutes, which is a shame as I really like Celtic
music. It's good to see Maire acknowledging her Christian faith, but does
that really mean the music has to be bland?
By James Stewart