Hot off the press is Tim Edey’s new CD A Celtic Christmas (Volume 1). You’d expect some gloriously played music from Tim Edey and this won’t disappoint.
As well as Tim’s virtuosity, he’s accompanied by a who’s who of Celtic performers: piper Ross Ainslie, Donald Shaw from Capercaillie, Mark Kelso on percussion, Steve Cooney ‘master of the fretless bass’, and the stunning harmonica player Brendan Power (with an impressively delicate piece on ‘The Snowman’). Strings, violin and arrangements are by Mary-Frances Leahy.
There are eleven tracks. Some won’t be a surprise – ‘The Snowman’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’, ‘Fairy Tale of New York’ – but the treatment might be. I’ve mentioned the use of harmonica on ‘The Snowman’. On ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ Edey plays all the instruments, melodeon driving the carol with additional decoration from classical guitar and solidity from bass as the tempos change. For ‘Fairy Tale of New York’ there’s nothing more than Tim Edey on classical guitar. In comparison with the MacGowan/MacColl original, the track here is as contrastingly gentle as it is harshly raucous on a Christmas Eve in the city-centre-pub-choir-before-everyone-departs-for-Midnight-Mass.
Less expected are tracks which reflect Edey’s travels. There are four with Gaelic titles: ‘Don Oíche Úd I mBeithil’, ‘The Night in Bethlehem’, a poem by Aodh Mac Cathmhaoil, poet, theologian and Archbishop of Armagh; ‘Breislach’ was written by Donald Shaw of Capercaillie; ‘Taladh Chriosda ‘is a 19th century Scottish Gaelic composition known as ‘The Christ’s Lullaby’ or ‘The Lullaby of our Saviour’ and sometime referred to as the Hebridean Carol; ‘Dán Laé Bréithe’, ‘Birthday Poem’ or ‘Happy Birthday’ was written by Shaun Davey who taught it to Tim while he was on tour in Ireland.
And finally: ‘The Wexford Carol’ is Irish tradition; ‘Noel Nouvelet’ is a five or six hundred years old French carol about the turning year – nouvelet and noel both derive from the same word, with meanings of news and newness; ‘The Galician Carol’ was learned from Spanish superstar Carlos Nunez. It is rightfully the last track as it will send you home smiling, maybe even dancing.
Christmas is coming, Tim Edey is on tour and the album gives you a chance both to put a penny in Tim’s hat and to put some delightful music in your friends’ and families’ Christmas stockings. While familiarity is important, class is more important, and one of the delights of the album is that it will make a great – and classier – alternative to the carols or pop songs that get played in families at this time of year.
More than that, as you’d expect from the highly talented, if self-effacing, Edey A Celtic Christmas is beautifully played and put together. It’s not hard to see this becoming a staple of many a Christmas to come.
I can’t help hoping the Folking Editor [as if I could resist – Ed] will let this final line through and thereby allow me to summarise: Tim Edey A Celtic Christmas – It’s a cracker.
‘Fairytale Of New York’ – officially live:
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