The Phantom Tollbooth
December 1998 Pick of the Month

The Court of the King
Artist: The Crossing
Label: Grrr Records, 1998
Time: 51:38 / 12 tracks

If you're into Celtic music, you know that few groups do it better than The Crossing. This album is no exception. From start to finish, you are in for a treat here. The combination of highland pipes, uillean pipes, bouzouki, whistles, bones, and many other wonderfully authentic instruments along with flutes, harps and cellos, set this album apart from other new releases this holiday season.

Most of the tunes are early traditional pieces from a variety of countries sharing the Celtic tradition. The album starts with an instrumental version of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." In case you doubt, the unusual deep horn tones of the didgeridoo in the background further prove this isn't your usual Christmas album. The next tune is a lively, traditional Cornish song, "Righteous Joseph," which The Crossing has made their own in a typical Celtic style. It is followed by a song from Wales which so frustrated Tony Krogh's attempts to read the original music that he ended up writing his own. The results is the laid-back song, "Dark the Night," about the star that shines in the East. There is even a Norwegian variation of a Swedish folk tune dedicated to Hilda Bialach's Norwegian mother. Bialach has a wonderful, sweet voice which blends perfectly with the music.

The Crossing's latest is an excellent choice this Christmas season for those ready for some fresh music of both lively Celtic and more laid back traditional sounds. My favorite is the title-cut and only original song, "The Court of a King:"

 "I'm only a man here who here who's remembering when this lowly stable held court to a King....I came seeking wisdom--nearly missing great grace!....we're called to carry on to the cross, where we start our own journey home"

By Shari Lloyd (10/28/98)