Those who are new to the music of Phil Holland will probably be at loss on how to approach her music. After all, she is first and foremost a student of classical music long before she ventured into the realm of Celtic music. Her brand of singing harkens into the grander Bel Canto style of the Italian school of music. In fact I am reminded mostly of composers like Verdi, Bellini and Puccini.Even in looks, she closely resembles the late and great Maria Callas.
Those who are looking for the likes of Loreena McKennitt, Moya Brennan or Karen Matheson will not find those here..at least vocally but then again it is a matter of taste. But if you want a different approach in your Celtic music then this one’s for you. There are flavours of Baroque in her delivery. It is unfair to say that only those who appreciate high brow music would really get Miss Holland’s album because music is universal. And this is clear in thirteen tracks she made for Faeries.
Wild Faery-A harp driven track composed of vocals and a spoken word. This is one of the two songs in the album that uses Shakespearean verse from a Midsummer Night’s Dream.
O’Corolan’s Concerto-The blind Irish composer left this legacy to the world.Who else could tackle Corolan’s Baroque pieces but one who has the descipline for it.This is a very lively tune that makes you want to sway on your seat,with smile in your face.
My Lagan Love-This traditional songs has been interpreted by so many artist. She approaches it in her own way.
Laoch Sidhe-The title stands for ‘warrior or hero faery in Gaelic’.The instrumental is embelishes by her layered vocals close to the end of the track.
Inisheer/The Blackbird-Harp solo.Bright and sparkling like an oasis in the middle of a forest.I also realized that she is playing the 36-string Donegal harp.
The Selkie-Words and Music by Phil Holland.She sings of a magical creature known as the selkie and being born in the Scottish isles, she brings passion and authenticity in this tale.
The Athol Highlanders/Will Ye No Come Back Again?-This is a traditional piece from Scotland rendered in Celtic Harp, Fiddle and voice.The instrumental piece progresses into mournful songs about Bonny Charlie which I have heard as a child.
The Faery Lullaby-Another song set in Shakespeare’s verses sang in her high operatic style.In the part where she introduces a harmonizing vocal, the effect is heartbreaking beautiful.
Allistrum’s March– Another traditional piece in Celtic harp and fiddle.Images of faeries doing the Irish dance come to mind.
The Hosting of the Sidhe-Words by W.B Yeats.
Morrison’s Jig-Playing it like a pro! I love the infectious rhythm of this tune and how she renders this traditional piece as it is. No flourishes, no pretensions. Just pure beauty in harp solo.
Raglan Road-Van Morrison made this tune popular. She does this in the style of operatic aria which surprisingly I came to really appreciate.
Sidhe Beag,Sidhe Mor/The Fairy Queen-Miss Holland closes this album with two O’Corolan pieces rendered in a gorgeous manner.Her playing is so smooth like a flow of honey.It is almost a sacrilege to talk while she is playing the harp.I heard Fairy Queen first through Clannad. And I could say this rendition sounds better!
If you haven’t explored your Scottish or Irish myths yet, then this album is a good start.
Was watching live Ireland video streaming last St Patrick’ day and they had this beautiful lass from Northern Ireland by the name of Lisa McLaughlin as studio guest. She sang songs from her new album including “Mac Boy’ which is about a friendship borne out of the Internet. She’s the looks like Joan Baez when she was young. She is on tour and you might want to check out her interesting music.