Of all the bands who have tried to modernize Celtic music, Capercaillie have been the most successful at adding electric guitars, synthesizers, and elements of world music while still retaining their connection to the Scottish music’s deep roots. On Nadurra, which is Gaelic for “naturally,” the band drops the experiments in African and Latin rhythms and timbres that marked their last few releases in favor of a sound that emphasizes traditional Celtic instruments like fiddle, tin whistle, uilleann pipes, cittern, and accordion. While the sets of dance tunes such as “Argyll Lassies” and “The Cockerel & the Creel” show the band is at its peak instrumentally, it’s the vocals of Karen Matheson that set Capercaillie apart from the rest of the pack. When she sings in English the songs barely rise above the level of workmanlike contemporary pop. “Truth Calling” could almost pass for a k.d. lang torch song, but when Matheson switches to Gaelic she takes the music to an entirely different plane. Non-Gaelic speakers may not understand the lyrics to songs like “Hoirreann O” and “Mo Chailin Dileas Donn,” but they would have to be deaf to not recognize the magic Matheson and her bandmates create when they perform these ancient melodies. –Michael Simmons
Canadian and overseas: not responsible for VAT or any other tariffs and taxes levied.