Celtic Beat Magazine
This is a most interesting anniversary album. Iona's style is unmistakeable-and with the combination of all musical strains from the Celtic world. They have certainly defined their niche in Celtic music in America. Indeed, as far as being a voice for both musical diversity and a Celtic commnality they are central. No one else quite does what they do. This while being both a shapeshifter and keeping their vision central at all times
Throughout is the best kind of music-here you don't need screaming guitars. A great range of emotions-sometimes several combined in the same cut meld perfectly. Iona begins intensely. Two that stand out here are "Willies Auld Trews"/"Fionnghuala"/"Tam Lin" and the sad elegaic "Marwnnd yr Eheydd(Death of the Lark)"/Titrwm Tatrwm(Pitter Patter)"/"Abergenni" with it's fine combination of both the expression of one poet and the tradition of "proper" courtly music.
The two favorites that I have on this CD are the wonderful "Volviendo al Valle(Returning To The Valley)"/"Chouteira"/"Get You A Copper Kettle" This lyrical wonderful Galician dance melded with a Bolivian tune finished with a Bluegrass tune and song which reaches back to the Whiskey Rebellion works-does it ever. Iona can combine instrumentals and bring in song at any time. And "Pachpi""Dans les Prison de Nantes"/"Johnny's Gone To France." Here is the Breton-French Canadian link combined with an Irish tune. The root of these in two parts of the Celtic Diaspora, not only from Britain and Ireland but Brittany as well.With an aggressive banjo by Jim Queen underscoring this, and Barbara Ryan's singing leading, this work particularly caught my ear.
Another selection from the Celtic Diaspora continue this theme. "The Trooper and Fair Maid"/"Toddy MacPherson's" is the lament(whether either a lie or a desperate IOU-we'll never know) of a soldier gone off to the wars either from economic necessity or to escape responsibility. And there is "Moirney ny Cainle"/ "Arrane y Guilley Hesheree(The Ploughboy's Song)"/"St. Ives Fer Moh(Big Fair)" where Cornwall meets up with Man with powerful instrumentals and the refrain "Where has yer daddy gone? Gone away to Fer Moh." This latter is another favorite of mine.
There is hope in the world and in the world of Celtic music that Iona keeps the vision fresh, diverse, and on target, on this their Silver anniversary. AK
||This CD explains Celtic in the broad view.
Most people think of Riverdance, pub music, bagpipes, leprechauns and kilts when asked to describe Celtic music. IONA debunks all these and other stereotypes of what comprises cumulative Celtic culture. With driving, infectious rhythms, outstanding musicianship, over 150 collective years of experience and knowledge, IONA presents the heart of the Celtic diaspora: music and dance from ALL the cultures - not only the usual suspects (Ireland, Scotland and Wales), but also the lesser known communities of Mann, Cornwall, Brittany, Galicia and Asturies and their transplants in the Americas (Cajun, Appalachian, Quebecois, South American and more). This CD guides the listener from one to the other through thematically and rhythmically related tunes and songs, which are often sung in the languages of origin. If you're looking for an explanation of how the music of these cultures relates, or just want to be transported to the celebration of life expressed by them, listen to IONA. Hitch a ride on "Silver".
By Branwen (Fairfax, VA, USA) at