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Music Review: Various Artists – ‘A Celtic Christmas’ [Compiled by Marc Gunn]

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Indie Celtic musician Marc Gunn has been spreading the word about contemporary Celtic music and musicians through his wildly popular “Irish and Celtic Music Podcast” for a number of years now. In A Celtic Christmas, Gunn has chosen 17 of his favorite Celtic Christmas songs to share with lucky listeners. The songs are a diverse combination of Celtic styles, from traditional to contemporary, with elements of jazz, folk, bluegrass, and rock. There are instrumentals, ballads, songs to dance to and songs for quiet listening.

celticchristmasThe songs cover a wide range of emotions, from joy to sadness, just as the holiday tends to do, as on songs like “(Without You On) Christmas Day” by George Papavgeris. It also brings back memories of Christmases past on songs like “Christmas in Pittsburgh 1943″ by Boston Blackthorne, and it also includes pure, delicious silliness like “Bog Down in Christmas,” from Gunn’s own former duo, the Brobdingnagian Bards. Gunn also provides a lovely ballad he wrote for his wife, “Christmas in Scotland.”

The traditional numbers here include Pandora Celtica’s version of “The Holly and the Ivy,” and “Silent Night” by the Gothard Sisters, which are perfect for enjoying by the fire or the lights of the tree, or as background music for Christmas gatherings. These songs will serve as a welcome introduction to some of the very best independent Celtic musicians and groups around, and be a delightful change from the same old Christmas songs you hear year after year.

Personal favorites include “Bog Down in Christmas,” Heather Dale’s contemporary “Hunting the Wren,” which sounds like a traditional song, and the instrumentals: “Gloucestershire Wassail” from John McGaha and “Banjos We Have Heard on High” from Jed Marum.

There are many Celtic Christmas compilations out there but very few of them celebrate the true spirit of Celtic music today and of Christmas with the sincerity, love and musical talent of these musical artists. All of them make their music because they love it and not for commercial purposes. Their music deserves to be heard, and when you buy A Celtic Christmas, you will find that your Christmas gets far brighter and more enjoyable.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.