album reviews

ARC Music (2013)

Kindred spirits: The Chieftains, Enya, Sinéad Lohan.

Irish folk group Clannad took quite a long break from the recording studio after its 1998 album, "Landmarks", but the group's most recent album, "Nádúr", is more than a reunion of band and studio. It's Clannad's first album in 24 years with its original lineup: siblings Moya, Ciarán and Pól Brennan and their uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan.

It's as if the break never happened, although Clannad's new-age spin on traditional folk has always sounded timeless—if a bit dated now that such like-minded artists as Enya and Sinéad Lohan have faded out of popularity. In favor or not, though, "Nádúr" (Gaelic for "Nature") is a strong showing: With the haunting "Vellum" and the mythologically inspired "Setanta", the Brennans and Duggans have crafted a lavish instrumental texture beneath Moya's soaring vocals.

The album features a few traditional tunes as well. "Turas Dhómhsa chon na Galldachd" heightens the intensity created by the group's vocal harmony with a faint bagpipe melody that murmurs at the song's end, and album closer "Cití na gCumann" is a stunning, tenderly simple love lullaby.

"Nádúr" probably won't spark a renaissance of Irish folk music, but it certainly shows no signs of Clannad's age, or time apart.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 30 January 2014.
.: Nádúr on