David Arkenstone – Celtic Garden
Rating: 4 /5
I stumbled on David Arkenstone’s newest album Celtic Garden when I heard a couple songs at a gift shop several weeks ago. With just that sampling, I was transported to another land by the American new age musician’s blend of rustic folk music, enchanting vocal and instrument solos, and cinematic inspiration. Celtic Garden wasn’t available for purchase then (the store had a pre-release promo copy), so I pre-ordered it from Amazon as soon as I got home. And after repeat listens to the CD, I’m still under its spell.
Celtic Garden pays tribute to celebrated Celtic and new age artists such as Loreena McKennitt, Enya, and Celtic Woman, as well as the music from the Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit films. Half of the tracks are instrumentals highlighted by violinist David Davidson, whose style ranges from playful (“Misty Morning”) to forlorn (“Nocturne”) to sweeping (“Misty Mountains / Song Of The Lonely Mountain”). His “duet” with Susan Craig Winsberg on flute and pennywhistle for “The Voice” evokes images of folk dancing and Ireland’s greenest meadows. The other half of Celtic Garden floats on the breeze of Charlee Brooks’ voice. She’s not a power singer by means, but that’s not what Celtic music is about. Instead, Charlee uses her gentle talents to charm the listener (“All Souls’ Night”), pray for compassion (“Deliver Me”), and pine for a distant lover (“Only An Ocean Away”).
Celtic Garden soothes me and speaks to my inner child. It entices me to relax, sing along, do yoga, even dance! (Yes, I’ve actually followed the urge and danced to this CD a few times!) I do, however, have a couple nitpicks. First, a couple tracks don’t come across as truly Celtic (“Misty Morning” sounds more like a nautical / pirate jaunt than an Irish jig, while “Safe and Sound” retains too much of the country twang from Taylor Swift’s original). Also, while the cover of Annie Lennox’s LOTR classic “Into The West” is well done, the song requires more power and emotion than Charlee’s voice can offer. Nonetheless, I’m thrilled that my recent gift store shopping led me to discovering David Arkenstone’s Celtic Garden. And I’m sure I’ll be visiting this breathtaking musical Eden time and time again.
Highlights: “Misty Mountains / Song of the Lonely Mountain,” “All Souls’ Night,” “The Voice”
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Coming Soon: No new CDs to review at the moment, so it might be a few weeks before the next Mini-Review Monday. However, stay tuned for a new Chronicling The Craft, as well as a special post in April that’s dedicated to National Poetry Month!