Look Out Thistle and Shamrock! (Review) I've long been a fan of Celtic music and I suspect I am not alone in this due to the ever flowering genre that has given us Riverdance, the likes of Enya and Public Radio's ever poplular program, The Thistle and Shamrock hosted by Fiona Ritchie. So it should come as no small surprise that this new release on BodyPlanet Records has given us a bright new shining star that would even send chills down the spine of Ms. Ritchie. Marita Brake's, The Celtic Rose, is a haunting, mystical meander through all things Emerald Green. What is interesting about this is that all the tracks on this CD are original, penned by Brake and her prodigious collaborator/producer, Kent Thompson. Brake's lyrics hark back to Yeats' wistful longing, pair that with Thompson's ethereal arrangements and you have a match made in heaven! From Thompson's, The Celtic Spirit, a panoramic anthem that will make you want to change your ancestry, if you're not Irish, to Brake's stunning Arthurian vocals (think Loreena McKennitt) this CD is nothing short of genius. I predict a few film scores in their future. Since the Celts proliferated in such far climes as India, Africa and Spain, this album reflects that mix of world music, with skillful percusion, vocalizing, sampling and subject matter. Here is a mix of ballads, cinematic nuances and rousing rhythms. Specifically, the title track, The Celtic Rose,a mythical tale about Joseph of Arimathea fleeing the Holy Land with a piece of the cross, planting it outside Glastonbury Chapel in England, where it blooms into a sweet, smelling blood red, rose. Equally enchanting is By The River, which Brake claims to have written about her 'meanders along the Mackinaw River' which flows through her native Midwest. Saying, in the liner notes, that she has 'never set foot on the isle of emerald green' which is something hard to believe, in that these offerings could well pass for the real thing, including several visits from ghostly specters and the traditional tainted love. So many people meet their maker in strange ways that I lost count of the dead. Brake is no newcomer to the world of music, having realeased a previous CD, Gypsymoon, performed at Carnegie Hall, Presidential Inaugurals and the like, but this is her first time to grace this genre. A worthy polemic from a more than worthy artist. __Laurel Harrison.
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