Album Review – New Age CD and Zone Music Reporter
“Destined to be a classic, ‘Land’s End’ by Celtic World Orchestra” is truly captivating from start to finish.” – Dyan Garris
Celtic World Orchestra (CWO) is a worldwide group of musicians and composers who write, record, and perform mixed-genre, contemporary Celtic music.
At this time, CWO’s group includes 38 worldwide members that have collectively amassed 11 Grammy® wins, many more Grammy® nominations, as well as numerous top charting records and top grossing films.
Similar to the group Electric Light Orchestra, CWO’s music is edgy and sophisticated – an interesting fusion – and challenging to pigeonhole into one particular musical genre. Celtic World Orchestra’s music genres include: Orchestral, Pop, World, New Age, Alternative, Rock, Jazz, Folk, Hip Hop, Chill-out and Broadway/Musicals, with a healthy dose of Celtic music and Gaelic music themes and influences throughout.
The core group includes three members who handle most of the writing, arranging, recording, orchestration, and production. These are Stephen Paul, Jeff Miller and Ryan Thomas. Stephen is the project producer/hands-on producer for approximately half of the material. He also does some writing and performance on guitars and keyboards. Ryan handles most of the orchestration and Jeff and Ryan also play many of the fundamental instruments, such as keyboards, guitars, bass, percussion, Irish whistle, flute, oboe and other woodwinds, plus other instruments and instrument programming.
Celtic World Orchestra’s first release, “Land’s End” is a big, bold, and fascinating album. The album credits include an impressive list of artists, including Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull fame, on flute, renowned composer and musical theater impresario, Andrew Lloyd Webber, well-known horn player, Jeff Oster, and New Age pianist and vocalist, Fiona Joy Hawkins, guitarist Todd Boston, and four-time Grammy® Award-winner, Eugene Friesen, performing here on cello, to name a few.
The group has recorded 20 tracks so far and the first album release, “Land’s End,” contains 12 of those tracks. Nine of the songs on the album are vocal tracks, including a beautiful vocal by Fiona Joy on “Molly Malone.”
The album opens with, “Now We Are Free.” This flowing song with a Celtic flavor, has a great world beat and features an outstanding vocal by Melissa R. Kaplan. Truly engaging, with perfect mix and stellar production.
“Game of Thrones Nuálach” is CWO’s edgy version of the “Game of Thrones” music theme that features the battle sequence, “Massacre at Hardhome.” This track features Ian Anderson in a brilliant flute passage in the intro. Really good! The music production by Stephen Paul is top-drawer. Be sure to catch the video on YouTube.
With its haunting vocals by Jeff Miller and passionate beat, “Cry No More” is hip and memorable. Cillian Vallely performing on Uilleann pipes and low Irish whistles, make this song thoroughly enjoyable.
“Downton Abbey Theme,” written by Primetime Emmy Award winner, John Lunn, for the British hit TV series, is epic, amazing, and wonderfully cinematic, of course. Avery Bright on violin and Ryan Thomas on whistles add nicely to this glorious mix. Love this.
We are treated to another gorgeous vocal by Melissa R. Kaplan on “The Parting Glass.” Melissa is the former singer/songwriter/front-person of Boston’s popular electronic pop outfit Splashdown. “The Parting Glass” is a Scottish traditional song that was sung while offering a departing guest or guests a “final drink for the road.” Everything about this track is exceptional. Another to truly love.
“Ale,” as the title may suggest, is an upbeat, lively track, featuring the vocal of Trevor Lewington, from “Enter The Haggis.” Trevor has a perfect voice for this song. Great fun. Written by Jeff Miller, who also performs on most other instruments on this track. Avery Bright on fiddle adds texture and even more zest.
“When You’re Falling” is utterly phenomenal, with its folksy, soft rock beat and superb, haunting vocal performances by Kim Seviour and John Christian Mitchell. So great! I think I have to call this my favorite on the album and it’s one to listen to again and again. Sheila Falls’ violin performance is amazing as well, but why wouldn’t it be? She is a three-time North American Irish Fiddle Champion and won the All-Ireland Fiddle Championship at the age of 15. Production by Jeff Miller is outstanding. Fabulous mix. Yes, this is definitely one for everyone’s playlist.
The always unmistakable flugelhorn of Jeff Oster, is the perfect complement to the poignant vocal of Ellen Tipper on “Infinite Gray.” Ellen also wrote this song. This is just lovely and soul-touching.
Nathan Pacheco’s vocal on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart’s, “The Music of the Night,” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” is deep and rich, tender and stunningly beautiful.
“Light of the Seven,” another piece from the TV series, “Game of Thrones,” features Todd Boston on guitar; the masterful cello performance of Eugene Friesen, and Ryan Thomas on oboe. This song was the Season 6 finale and featured piano. This particular interpretation is also fabulous.
Again, we are treated to a stunning vocal by Nathan Pacheco on the final track on the album, the very beautiful, “Celtic Hymn.” Ryan Thomas on whistle and the songwriter of this song, Jeff Miller, also on piano, add to the flawlessness and the perfect close to this wonderful album. Destined to be a classic, this album is truly captivating from start to finish.
– Dyan Garris