Friday, December 17, 2010

"Silver Swan" by Qntal

And now to give a music review for something that is not Celtic.

I first discovered Qntal via pandora when the first track of this particular album showed up. I listened to it once in lala (before Apple shut it down), and now I have the pleasure of listening to it quite frequently on rhapsody. The band is from Germany, and they have a dark, almost goth-like sound on this particular album though they use largely real instruments on this one compared to their other works. I have heard bits and pieces from their other works, but this album, I believe, contains their best songs.

"Monsieur's Departure"

This song is based on a text written by Elizabeth I of England about love she felt towards someone else. This is a very haunting, seductive, and beautiful piece reminiscent of a waltz, and it will get stuck in your head. This is the song that first introduced me to Qntal.

"Amis Raynaut"

This song is sung in French and has an almost seductive air about it; but, then again, the French language is like that. It is reminiscent of "Monsieur's Departure" though not as haunting.


This haunting song is also based on a Latin Medieval text and almost has a Mediterranean-style feel to it. I also like the use of the deep male voices in the background, which add to its dark mood. It is one of my favorites from the album.

"Von Den Elben"

This song starts off with the twanging of an instrument that sounds almost Greek, and then it works into a gentle harp and synthesizers before the singer Syrah's voice comes in. The entire piece is very pretty, and the musical arrangement is very lush.

"Lingua Mandax"

After the slowness of "Von Den Elben", the band picks it up with something more lively and almost tough-sounding. Even though it is sung in Latin, it almost sounds like German, which actually works for this song.

"Falling Star"

Syrah reverts to singing English again, and she shows off how she hit those high notes with the synthesizer humming in the background.

"The Whyle"

This song is in Middle English, I believe. It is lively and comes across almost like a dance.


This piece is pretty. Some instrument in the background makes almost a dripping sound, which makes me think of a melting winter turning into spring.

"Altas Undaz"

This song returns to lush background instrumentation. The chorus is very pretty with Syrah singing more high notes.


This song sounds a little like "Lingua Mandax" except it has a far gentler sound. It also sounds Mediterranean- inspired.

"Silver Swan"

The last song on the album is a gentle, orchestral piece; with Syrah's vocals, it sounds graceful and beautiful, like a swan gliding on a lake. It is a fitting end to the album.

This album is very pretty. I have no general complaints about it except that some of the pieces do sound the same after a while. However, it is a beautiful and memorable piece of work that I will enjoy for years to come.

I give it four out of five stars.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Holiday High" by Spalding and Lasar

And now for a Christmas music review. Now that finals are over, I now have the time to do this.

I first discovered Cadence Spalding through my pandora radio stations this past year, and I liked her layering vocals, so I caught on. During my free trial for emusic, I was looking her up and discovered this album that she did with her husband Mars Lasar. After one listen, I used my credits to download the album and now have the pleasure of listening to it frequently. For those not acquainted with Spalding's work, she sounds like Enya except her voice is higher and that she sings what sounds like both alto and soprano parts, which set her apart from the Irish singer.

"All Is Calm"

This is a version of "Silent Night". It is a very pretty version, though I think having Cadence's more real-sounding vocals almost sounds a bit jarring.

"Candles Shine"

This is "Away in a Manger". Another pretty song.


This is a different version of "O Christmas Tree", as these lyrics do not match up with the original ones. The real vocals again sound a bit jarring and almost ruin the ethereal sound of the layered voices.


I believe this is an original composition of Spalding's or her husband's. This is basically a prayer for Christmas.

"Oh, Come Rejoice"

I think this is also another original composition. It is pretty though not one of my personal favorites.

"The Babe"

This is "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel". I personally like versions of this old hymn that have a darker feeling to it, and this one suffices very well between the haunting voices, the drums in the background, and then the flute towards the middle of the song. My only complaint is that I would have not sang the first verse and chorus twice. Otherwise, it is very pretty.

"Angel Song"

This is "What Child Is This?", and it is very beautiful. It just might be my favorite version.

"Turn Your Heart"

This is "Angels We Have Heard on High", and it is also is a pretty piece.

"Fall on Your Knees"

This is an original composition, though it starts off like "O Little Town of Bethlehem." It is one of my favorites from the album.

"Stars in the Sky"

This is "O Holy Night." I believe this is Cadence singing the main melody, though to me it almost sounds like a boy's voice. Not another of my personal favorites.

This is a very pretty album. It is not sentimental like other Christmas albums, and I love Spalding's use of the layering. However, I think she could have removed her more natural- sounding voice from some of the pieces, as it did not add much to them. Another problem I have is that some of the song titles are seemingly mixed up. I don't know if this is emusic's fault or not, but the last three song titles do not match what I listen to on rhapsody and what amazon says (the song order in the review is as rhapsody gave me and is the same as amazon's). Along the lines of song titles, it got confusing trying to figure out what Christmas song was what and re-naming them so I remember which one is which; it would have been easier to stick to the original titles.

Otherwise, I have very few complaints with this Christmas album. It is beautiful and will probably be listened to all year round by me. I give it four and 1/2 stars out of five.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Upcoming Reviews

I'm still here. After finals next week, I've got quite a few music reviews to do. Here is a list (not necessarily in order that I will do them) of which ones I want to do:

"Deirdre" by Deirdre Shannon
"Celtic Christmas" by Orla Fallon
"Silver Swan" by Qntal
"Dissolution of Eternity" by Dargaard
"Holiday High" by Cadence Spalding and Mars Laser
"Songs for a Fallen Angel" by John McGlynn

Keep watching this blog, and hopefully I can get a few of these written over my Christmas break.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Remembering Celtic Woman

As a few know, my liking of Celtic Woman has been declining over the past few years, but it worsened these last few months with the departures of both Alex and Lynn. To me, the group doesn't sound the same anymore, especially ever since Meav and Orla took off. And my hopes have not been risen either by the announcement of the new member today.

Today I was reminded of the good ol' days before Meav and Orla left, back when the five original members existed in the group. Videos of Orla's recent Christmas concert in Nashville have been popping up on youtube, and I've been watching them. Someone today uploaded one of Meav and Orla singing "Do You Hear What I Hear?". I started watching it, and oh, did my eyes begin to water up. Watching the two smiling and singing together, I was immediately reminded of Celtic Woman between 2004 and 2007, back when I thoroughly enjoyed their music and the girls' stage presence. The singing was gorgeous, but it was seeing the two interact and treat each other like old friends as they performed and hearing the people applaud loudly and give them a standing ovation afterwards, that's what got me. It made me realize how much I truly miss the old Celtic Woman, the one I discovered back in 2006 through a random music search, and sadly I don't think I'll ever see it again, live or in studio.

So, I heartily recommend finding the video on youtube and watching it. It will remind you of Celtic Woman's glory days, and, plus it's an excellent addition to anyone's Christmas music library.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

I admit it; when I first saw the trailer for "Toy Story 3", I was a little dubious about it. And, hearing mixed reviews from other people who saw it, I was skeptical and not sure what to think. However, last week, my family got it from our local Redbox and watched it.

The story takes place around ten years after the events of "Toy Story 3", when Andy is preparing to go off to college and his toys are not looking forward to moving into the attic. After mistakenly being thrown in the garbage, the toys decide to go off to the local daycare, where they will have someone new to play with them. However, things take a different turn when the daycare turns out to be a living nightmare, and the toys must escape.

Despite my misgivings about the movie, I turned out enjoying it far more than I expected to. However, I will insert a little warning here: this movie, despite being for children, does not exactly contain material for younger ones. There are a couple of creepy characters that would absolutely terrify kids and a couple of situations that they could be freaked out by. Not only that, but there is a little more "adult"-themed material like tying up a Barbie doll in his underwear and torturing him or the same character seemingly cross-dressing later on; it is played on for laughs, but I would be a little edgy on showing it to kids. Though, I will say, the last few scenes of the movie will make you cry, especially the adults or parents.

One issue I did have with the movie was the repetitive situations and such that have been used in one of or both of the previous films. A few examples are the toys always getting lost and having to find their way home, a toy who seems kind but turns out malicious, and Buzz going through his "space ranger" delusion. While each situation, granted is a little different, it does come across as being somewhat repetitive and unimaginative.

Other than those issues, "Toy Story 3" lives up to its two predecessors and is a worthy addition to anyone's Pixar collection as well as being a (hopefully) good ending to the "Toy Story" trilogy.

I give it 4 and 1/2 stars out of five.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Loreena McKennitt- The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Ok, any Celtic music lovers out there, Loreena McKennitt is releasing her new album "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" on November 15th (in the US). It seems Ms. McKennitt is returning to her original Celtic roots, as all nine songs are traditional Irish ones. Samples are available on her website, and I must say, they sound amazing. I largely know of McKennitt's music by her more Middle Eastern and Mediterranean themes, but this is a different flavor for her. Taking the lush arrangements from her more recent works and adding the beautiful sound of the uillean pipes, Loreena's music seems different yet good. I am thoroughly looking forward to the release of the album, and I think I may just add it to my very small Christmas list for the year.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Orla Fallon: "Winter, Fire, and Snow"

And, now as I promised recently, I shall give you all a review of Orla Fallon's Christmas/ winter-themed album "Winter, Fire, and Snow".

"What Child Is this?"

This hymn, with its familiar tune of "Greensleeves" is pretty, although the style and arrangement strikes me as something Moya Brennan would do.


This traditional hymn starts off acapella with fairly large pauses between stanzas (which becomes annoying and does not have a smooth feeling to it), and then it works into the rest of the band. I am not familiar with these verses, as this version has ones not normally sung. Compared to Enya and Hayley Westenra, this song is nothing memorable.

"Away in a Manger"

Orla sung this on Celtic Woman's Christmas album, and this version sounds almost identical, like what she would have sung with them. I would have preferred a different arrangement.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

Orla picks up the pace on this song, but I do not get the feeling of "comfort and joy" in the way she sings it. The piece then transforms into an instrumental version of "We Three Kings" (though I honestly had difficulty telling the two songs apart).

"Silent Night"

This song has been covered in Gaelic so many times it has grown old on me. It sounds almost identical the one Meav sang with Celtic Woman.

"Captain O'Cain"

Orla's harp has returned after spending time in the background on "Distant Shore". It is a pretty song, and the tune is familiar to me, having heard Maggie Sansone perform it. However, I do not know why this song was put on a Christmas/winter album.

"Bells of Christmas"

This song, most likely written by Orla, is pretty and sounds like Moya Brennan mixed with a bit of Loreena McKennit. To me, it is the only Christmas-y song on the album without coming across as sentimental. One of the few highlights of the entire album.

"In the Bleak Midwinter"

There is nothing particularly memorable about this song for me, despite being a pretty arrangement.


No, this is not the same one that Meav performs on her album "Celtic Journey"; rather, this is Anuna's version. Unless the song refers to Christ, once again I don't know why it ended up on this CD.

"Carolan's Welcome"

I have heard a couple of versions performed by Aine Minogue and the Chieftains, but the latter is still my absolute favorite. Orla sounds more like Aine here, and I'm still a bit puzzled over why a non-winter/Christmas tune is on here.

"Winter, Fire, and Snow"

This song is a poem converted to song form thanks to Brendan Graham (author of "My Land", "The Voice", and "You Raise Me up") and made popular by Orla's former collaborator Anuna. Even though it a haunting piece, Anuna's still holds my heart.

"Wexford Carol"

This carol sounds, again, identical to Meav/ Celtic Woman's.

I was hoping that this album would be an improvement over Orla's "Distant Shore" (which I thought was too pop-sounding for her style), but I found "Winter, Fire, and Snow" to be sadly worse.

First off is the style. Orla has departed from the pop, but she is now swinging more towards sounding like Moya Brennan. Maybe it is just because she is discovering her unique style, but Orla here sounds like a wannabe doing what other artists have already done and not standing up to them. She should find her own sound and stay there.

Second is the song choice. Besides a few Christmas/winter tunes, the album itself does not have the feel of something to listen to on a winter's day. Songs like "Carolan's Welcome" and "Captain O'Cain" sound more like filler and do not fit into the general scheme of things. And not only that, but the song arrangements are lacking and unimaginative. They sound more like Celtic Woman and less like Orla as a solo artist; and those not inspired by CW sound like Moya Brennan or come across as being passionless and flat, with nothing truly memorable about them.

Third off is Orla's voice itself. I read somewhere that the album was done in a short period of time, and it sounds exactly like that. Even though I have no critical fondness for "Distant Shore", I could still see Orla smiling and putting her heart into what she was singing. Here, I do not get that impression. Everything sounds rushed, as if there was no time to put a little heart and soul into what was performed.

I know Orla can do much, much better than this. She has no lack of talent or personality in singing and playing the harp, but sadly she fell flat on this CD. I was very disappointed to hear this album, and I can only hope that this is not a sign of things to come.

I give this album one and a half out of five stars.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Movie Review: Inception

While I hold off on the new Orla Fallon CD, I've decided instead to do another movie review for Christopher Nolan's "Inception", which I saw earlier this week.

"Inception" is not your typical heist movie commonly seen in theaters today. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a thief who does his work in a most unusual fashion: breaking into someone's mind while they sleep and stealing their ideas. After a botched job, his victim, played by Ken Watanabe, offers him a deal: if he can cause the break-up of a rival company, he will enable Cobb to return home, as he has been living overseas in exile for an unspecified amount of time. Cobb assembles a team together and prepare to do this very risky job, but his personal demons are not far behind and could put the entire mission in jeopardy.

All in all, the movie was absolutely amazing. The story being centered around how we dream was a fascinating concept and came across as being very original. There was good, solid acting from everyone, and I have no complaints about the characters, even though DiCaprio's character in some ways was reminiscent of his role in "Shutter Island". The special effects were excellent, and they gave the film a surreal, dream-like feel. And, not to mention the ending of the film which will have everyone talking about it for days and make you want to see it again.

I highly recommend this film, and it is truly one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

I give it five out of five stars.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Upcoming CD Review

I am, at the moment, listening to former Celtic Woman Orla Fallon's Christmas/ winter CD "Winter, Fire, and Snow", purchased in MP3 form from Green Hill Music. However, because of her upcoming Christmas show in Nashville and because the CD largely being released the second week of September, I will not be posting a review until around then. Besides, it will give me more time to digest the CD and its content, something I wish I had done when writing a review of her "Distant Shore" last year. So, keep your eyes open for this upcoming review.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Movie Review: Shutter Island

A few weeks ago, on a recommendation from some friends and my own brother, my family rented this thriller from Blockbuster.


Edward (also known as "Teddy") Daniels is a US marshal summoned out to Ashecliff, a psychiatric hospital on Shutter Island, to find a missing patient named Rachel Solando there. He and his new partner "Chuck", as they dig deeper into finding the woman, discover that not everything is as it seems and that darker things could be happening at the hospital while, at the same time, Teddy battles the memory of his dead wife Dolores who urges him to find the man who killed her and may be on the island himself.

This movie was an interesting choice for Martin Scorsese, who is more well-known for his gritty films like "The Departed" and "Gangs of New York", but he pulled off this psychological thriller very well. Even though I had partially guessed the twist ending about halfway through the movie, it was still a surprise to me. The ending left no plot holes and fit the story perfectly; in fact, watching it a second time, I picked up more clues that gave it away, so do pay attention to it. I have no general complaints about this film, as it was enjoyable and well-done.

I give it four and a half stars out of five.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sorry for Being Slow

Well, the title says it all. I've had a couple of ideas of what to post, but none so far have materialized, as I'm in the middle of a creative drought at the moment. I'll try to post something soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

A few weeks ago, 3/5 of my family saw this film for the first time thanks to Blockbuster, as the other 2/5 had already seen it in theaters.


Tim Burton, known for his wacky films like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (yes, I know it should be in italics) and "Big Fish", at first seems to be made to bring Lewis Carrol's film to the big screen. Instead of sticking to the original material, Burton creates a new and independent story where the original events occurred before the movie begins. Several years have passed, and Alice has grown up into an independently-minded young woman who hates popular society but does not feel she can get out of an arranged marriage. While at her engagement party, she sees a white rabbit running around and follows it down the hole. The viewer soon learns that Alice has been in Wonderland before as a child but that she has virtually no memory of it, believing it to have been a bad dream. Upon her arrival, Alice discovers that Wonderland is being ruled by the bad-tempered Red Queen, whose pet jabberwocky is wrecking havoc on the kingdom, and that it is only she who can kill the jabberwocky and restore the rightful ruler the White Queen to the throne. Alice denies that she can do this, but she goes on a quest to find the needed sword and help her new friends.

On the one hand, I can understand why Burton wanted to give the story a plot because the original lacks a definitive one, but on the other hand it comes across as silly and unoriginal. While watching the movie, I kept thinking of "Chronicles of Narnia": child goes to other world, discovers is object of prophecy but refuses to believe it, then goes on a journey of self-discovery and ends up fulfilling its destiny then returning home to find that normal life can be conquered after all. This, I thought, was a very modern-fied version of Carrol's classic story and did not flow smoothly with it. Not only that, but several elements such as the White Queen and the jabberwocky were not even from the original story but were from other works of Carrol's, and so they really did not fit into the general scheme of things. The characters were not well-done either. Far from being the curious child, Alice has turned into an independent woman, the stereotypical girl not sure what to do who later decides to do things her own way. The rest of the characters are nothing really memorable, and even Johnny Depp's performance as the Mad Hatter wasn't as good as his other roles such as Captain Jack Sparrow or Willy Wonka; plus, the whole implied relationship between Alice and the Hatter was a bit weird.

The movie wasn't that bad, but it wasn't great either. It was worth it for one watch but not to see over and over again.

I give it two out of five stars.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Movie Review: Robin Hood

Last weekend, my family and some friends went to the theater, which is a rare occasion for us, to see Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood".


This adaptation of the legend tries to fit into history and real events. You have Robin as a soldier fighting under Richard Lionheart in France and then returning home to fulfill a promise made to Robert of Loxley as he lay dying. He meets Loxley's widow Marian and her father-in-law Walter, who convince him to stay for a while and pretend to be the dead Loxley. At the same time, you have Godfrey, working for the French king, wrecking havoc all over England and the newly crowned King John trying to deal with this and other issues in his kingdom.

I can see why a lot of reviewers did not like this particular version, as it severely deviates from the original legend. Sometimes this can be a good thing, but in some cases it can cripple the story. Most of the time, Robin uses a sword and leaves the bow behind, only to use it for a few specific shots that last only a few seconds. Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham were barely even villains, and the prince only because he refused to sign a version of the Magna Carta. There was almost no mention of the taxes and suffering of the general people so well-known to the legend, and the only thieving that Robin does is stealing corn so Marian can plant. Only three of the Merry Men are shown, and they have very minor roles in the story, mostly as comic relief occasionally called upon to help Robin fight when they're not chasing the women of Nottingham.

The story itself was weak and did not flow smoothly. Besides the fact that it started off slow then had a brief big battle at the end, there was too much going on. You have the Magna Carta (portrayed more as freedom for the people than as something the nobility created) then abruptly shift gears to Godfrey's rebellion with no further mention of it or to the war with France, which was unrelated. It came across to me as if the writers could not decide on what aspect to focus on, so they threw them all together into a jumbled mess. The story ends with the realization that this is meant to be a prequel or an explanation for the legend, which left me feeling unsatisfied and hoping that the story isn't continued into another movie.

In the end, the movie was nothing epic or something that I'd watch over and over again. I should have saved the seven dollars from the movie ticket for something else.

I give it two stars out of five.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


A note to my readers: I may be hiding this blog and only letting certain people read it, though I've yet to make a decision about this. I was doing a random google search earlier today and discovered that the book review for "How to Save the World" Book 1 that I posted back last summer was re-posted elsewhere... alongside some atrocious grammar and spelling plus a couple of unintelligible sentences, but it was most certainly my review... like someone taking credit for writing it. I know reviews aren't copyrighted unless you publish them for a magazine or something like that, but it makes me a bit nervous about how many of my reviews have been re-written on the internet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lynn Hilary: "Take Me with You"

Ok, sorry for disappearing for a month. I had to think of what music review to do next, as there are several Celtic CDs I want to do. For now, I'll review the solo album of new Celtic Woman member Lynn Hilary.

Since my first Celtic Woman show was in 2009 (despite discovering the group in early 2006), I was not acquainted with Lynn and her voice very well besides recordings that made their way on youtube. From what I did hear, I thought she had a nice voice though could not stand up to Meav. I still think that way for reasons that I will talk about later. Anyway, it was because of this that I did not buy Lynn's album or listen to it in great detail for a while. However, listening to it on pandora, lala, and youtube, I was convinced it was good and ended up buying it for eight dollars in MP3 form (cheaper than paying $20 for it at a Celtic Woman concert or paying $15 for it on Amazon). And now, on to the review.

" Melody of Life"

The album opens up to a gentle piano piece accompanied by a fiddle and Lynn's quiet voice. It is a very pretty song.

" Swimming in the Barrow"

The pace picks up with this John McGlynn song (it was actually because of this song that I discovered and fell in love with the original). It's nice, but I prefer McGlynn's solo version.

" Erin Beo"

A minor theme of this album is the departure of the Irish to America due to the Potato Famine, and this quiet song is the first out the two to discuss this. The depressing tone of the song turns hopeful and brighter during the chorus. A pretty and haunting piece.

" Sunset of Gold"

This song is a duet between Lynn and Don Mescall, who worked with her on this album in co-writing songs and such. It takes on a more intimate, jazz feel with the guitar, singing about sailing away from the bustle of the world.

" Carolina Rua"

Because Celtic Woman decided not to air their version of this song, I have grown to love this one. Lynn sings about a boy's crush on a girl named Carolina and is accompanied by her guitar. I like this version better than Celtic Woman's because this one captures the air of childhood innocence present in the song, rather than trying to turn it into a "Dulaman" or "Si Do Mhaimeo".

" Annie Watches"

This song, written by Lynn and by Anuna's John McGlynn (who wrote "Swimming in the Barrow"), is a gentle love song.

" What Makes the Sun Set?"

Another lovely jazz song with the piano and electric guitar.

" Take Me with You"

This song is probably one of the prettiest ones on the album and one of the more haunting ones. Once you hear it, you will never forget it.

" Shona Mara"

The immigration theme re-appears on this song about two lovers who are separated when one crosses the ocean and leaves the other behind. A tragic love song.

" Slan Le Maigh"

The only traditional song on the album is sung acapella. A pretty piece and one where Lynn slightly shows off on the high notes.

" Road to Glory"

Lynn picks up the pace with something fast-paced. Sung to the same tune as "Fields of Glory" (performed by The High Kings), this song talks about people searching for meaning in life.

" Angel Doves"

The album closes out with this Mindy Smith cover. It is a quieter piece but has a hopeful air about it.

A big plus about this album is that, which is rare to find, there is not one song on here that I dislike. I do have favorites, of course, but the entire album is beautiful. One thing that I really like about it is that this is pure Lynn, what her style of music is, and it perfectly suits her and her quiet, shy personality. This, to me, is what defines her, and not the songs she has performed with Celtic Woman (as I think they're forcing her into Meav's shoes). I wish they would let her do more of her own style, but I'm not going to go down that road.

I give the album four and a half stars out of five.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Movie Review: "2012"

Last night, my family decided to watch Roland Emmerich's movie "2012", as the previews of world destruction looked pretty cool. In the end, it turned out to be nothing more than a cheesy movie with a script that made us want to give it the Mystery Science Theater treatment.

Basically, the premise is that neutrinos from the sun are making the earth's core heat up and start melting the crust (the science completely escapes me on this), causing the 2012 Doomsday. So, several characters try to survive California falling into the ocean, the Yellowstone Caldera erupting, large earthquakes, and huge tsunamis while battling their own personal demons, largely with family members.

The effects were really cool, which is typical Emmerich, but the story itself was poorly written and at times even seems more like a cut and paste job from other movies like "Day after Tomorrow" and "Armaggedon." You have the typical divorced guy whose kids hate him and his wife wants to get back together, a jerk of a billionaire who cares for nothing except his spoiled sons, the young scientist trying to save the world and instill us with a sense of emotion with his speech about the good in people... I could go on, but let's just say the characters are cardboard cutouts. Even if your characters are typical stereotypes, it could be forgiven if the story and dialogue make up for it, but this sadly was not the case. A common theme, which became annoying quickly, was how most of the characters have family issues ranging from divorce, dead spouses, little relationship with their children, etc... As if a broken family is behind every good story. This is bad writing and has been overdone so many times, only serving to ruin the plot. Not to mention the sappy, predictable dialogue that pitifully tries to evoke emotion but instead makes you want to retch.

The story itself had plenty of potential, to be more than just a film with great effects, but sadly it fell far short of it. I give it one star out of five.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Brief Critique of Atlanta Show

After writing a full-length Celtic Woman review on my family's blog, I was still on cloud nine and was not in any mood to critique it. But, after a few days (and a few small yet nonetheless embarrassing mistakes at work), the mood has passed on, though what I have to say is nowhere near as harsh as the "Songs from the Heart" DVD.

As I said in my other review, the candles used at a few points during the show reminded me more of an attempt to be like Anuna (who uses candles at times during their performances), which I don't give as a compliment. The lighting was not as annoying as my first show, where I felt like I was being blinded, but I thought they could have made the colors a little more subtle and not so bright.

The song choices, I thought, were good yet interesting. I think Celtic Woman was paying attention to fan reviews that said the new show was far too slow with not enough lively tunes because they sure made up for that, adding "Orinoco Flow", "At the Ceili", "Granuaile's Dance", "Mo Ghile Mear", and "Spanish Lady." It was a smart move on their part to add some variety. I liked Alex's new solo "My Heart Was Home Again" and thought it really showed off her voice so that she doesn't look like "the Orla stand-in with Lisa's voice yet the simplest songs out of all the girls". The new group piece was amazing, and I loved how they combined three (or four) songs into one, which is a very Irish thing to do. I wasn't disappointed that "True Colors" and "O America" were not in there, as I'm not fond of either, so pretty much I enjoyed all the songs performed.

However, that being said, I did have one major issue with one song: "Dulaman." I expected "Carolina Rua' to be performed; I like "Dulaman," but to me it's a Meav song while "Carolina Rua" is a Lynn song. If it's because of a supposed copyright issue or something similar, like is being claimed, I find it completely stupid and nonsensical; if you don't have the copyrights for it, then why do you perform it on a tour, then for a new show, release it as an Amazon-only download for both song and video, and then completely remove it from the new tour? It doesn't make sense to make fans all excited about it when it's performed on the "Isle of Hope" tour and performed at Powerscourt and then not release it at all, especially because I've seen that it's a fan favorite and there has been much disappointment over it's "disappearance". I could rant about this, so I'll just shut my mouth and get off my soap box.

Another disappointment at the show to me was Chloe's voice. When I first discovered Celtic Woman back in January of 2006, Chloe's "Walking in the Air" was what captured my attention, especially when later I found out she was only fifteen at the time of the recording; I was amazed that someone so young could sound so beautiful, with a sense of youth yet maturity at the same time. However, as I've noticed over the past few years, her voice and performances have not been as well-done as in the past. What I heard earlier this week sounded like (as another reader put it and which I agree with) Mariah Carey or an attempt at the R&B genra. It's completely out of line with her Classical voice, and I find it is very weak. The motions she does on stage, both at the live recording and what I saw live in Atlanta, were meant to convey emotion, but they did not seem real. Her voice used to sound so young and yet mature (much like Hayley Westenra), but now that has passed into lacking its original power. I'm not sure if Chloe is consciously doing this on her own accord or if management or the musical director is pushing her that way, but it does not sound good on her. I find her earlier performances, even if she looked stiff during them, to sound more powerful (I'm thinking of "To Where You Are", one of my favorites by her, as well as "Nella Fantasia").

Back to the positive. The girls looked like they were having fun that night, and I think Mairead was simply on fire. The show, as a whole, looked a lot less commercialized than what I saw last March, which was a big plus. I also enjoyed the girls speaking to the audience and using microphones on occasion, which made it seem a little more intimate and less like a show. I'm positive part of the show was lip-synched, but I'm actually puzzled about how much, as the microphones slightly threw me off. I did thought I heard two sour notes from Alex during "You'll Be in My Heart," but that song seemed live to me.

All in all, I enjoyed this show much better than the DVD and better than the show I saw last March.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Sorry for a lack of posts, but I've been otherwise occupied with my new job. I'm thinking of a new topic, but I'm running a bit out of ideas. I think I talk about/ critique Celtic Woman or Irish music too much, but I've not really read any interesting books or seen a neat movie lately. I think I need to find another topic of interest, as this blog seems to be more about what's on my mind (which could be anything from Irish music to cryptzoology to science). Maybe that's why I called it "ramblings" because I ramble most of the time. :P

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Global Warming?

Um... excuse me, I thought the whole world was on the verge of an environmental disaster because of warmer-than-usual weather. I don't think we're on the same planet because right now in Georgia the temperature is below freezing and it's the middle of the day, and let me tell you, that is extremely unnatural. So, if the world is supposedly warming up, it surely isn't down here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Good Grief....

I don't know why, but it seems Celtic Woman fans whip themselves into a frenzy in a short period of time, as I've shown earlier. Now they're ardently denying that the show's latest creation "Songs from the Heart" isn't lip-synched. Look at the link for how they react. Note, the person isn't saying things like "Celtic Woman sucks" but is just saying "they don't sing live." (I also make a few postings here as Lunescent2007).

I've known that CW's shows have been lip-synched for some time now. When I first saw "A New Journey" on PBS in 2006, I didn't think they were, though my mother, who's unfamiliar with the group, said they were. I wasn't really convinced until I saw the "Christmas Celebration" DVD, where it sounds almost identical to a studio recording except a few little extras were added to make it seem live. After that, I've been convinced that they don't sing live, but that doesn't stop me from listening to them or watching their videos. It does bother me a bit that they don't show off their natural voices during concerts, but that's beside the point.

The point is, they do lip-synch. The voices sound identical to a studio recording and ultimately, that is what defines the matter. If you want to hear the girls' real voices (granted, the quality is bad, but this is probably as close to their real voices as we'll hear), check out the following links.

In the meantime, people don't need to leap all over each other just because someone says "oh, they don't sing live." All I can say is, good grief.