A Celtic Christmas
Recorded to coincide with a tour of the same name, the promotional blurb promises passion, beauty, fun and surprises and as far as these things go, that is exactly what the album delivers!
A quick run down the track listing confirms that – the choice of music is wide and varied – with several titles in Gaelic and one in French and the sources spread just as widely.
Opening with Tim’s take on Ding Dong Merrily on High, preconceptions are rapidly turned on their head as, rather than the lusty singalong that might be expected, the beauty of the music is exposed and enjoyed, giving a completely new perspective on something so familiar and this is a theme repeated across the album. The version of The Snowman that follows removes the familiar pre-pubescent voice and allows the instruments to give new voices to a reinterpretation that manages to be both familiar and stunningly original, not least the harmonica contribution from frequent collaborator, Brendan Power.
The album selection is a reflection of suggestions made following a Facebook post, and accounts to some degree the eclectic nature of the whole project as a French New Year tune is followed by beauty of The Wexford Carol and reveals another strength of the album. Originally conceived as a solo project, at gigs around the world, the nature of the project was revealed and attracted a stellar set of interested contributors – from Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw – who also contributes harmonium on a version of his own Briesleach – to master musicians, fretless bassist Steve Cooney and renowned percussionist Mark Kelso, piper Ross Ainslie, and introducing the next generation in the form of Mary Frances Leahy, daughter of Canadian Roots superstars, Natalie McMaster and Donell Leahy. Not only does Mary Frances contribute exquisite strings and violin but is also credited for her arrangements on some of the tracks.
The additional help is most welcome but Tim demonstrates that he is quite capable of musical entrancement as a solo artist, serving up yet another surprise, with a stunning version of Fairytale of New York, a timely reminder of the beauty of the song, stripped back to a classical guitar. A fitting tribute to the very recently lost Shane MacGowan, as one can’t help but add in the words but also a reminder of the often-overlooked musical contribution of Jem Finer.
Tm has been described as being ‘World Class, and then some’ and his playing does nothing to contradict that opinion, but musical virtuosity is no end in itself unless married to spirit and a passion for what is being played. Anyone who has seen Tim play live will have seen the joy that is unconfined in his performances and there is a reminder of this throughout.
A collection of surprising old favourites, obscure but welcome introductions, gently reflective and then rousing and uplifting, overall, a fine selection of music, to be savoured like a fine whisky (or a decent whiskey) in the warmth of an open fire.
Besides the musical excellence on offer, a quick pat on the back for Robin Wynn Evans at Tpot studios, for sonically knitting together the differently sourced and recorded contributions – quite literally from around the world!
By all accounts, The Celtic Christmas Tour will become an annual event, so keep a look out for a visit near you in 2024!
The album is available from www.TimEdey.com or via Bandcamp, as well as digital outlets.
A Celtic Christmas