Reviewed by Tony Cummings
For years the Christian music market, both in Britain and the USA, has had a niche for "Celtic music", ie, music played on whistles, fiddles and sometimes things like uilleann pipes and bodhrans which has a flavour or origin in Irish folk music. Over the last few years Nigel and Juilie have emerged as world leaders in Celtic gospel and, after fine instrumental and Christmas albums in their 'Celtish' series, they've now released what has to be considered their masterwork. 'Celtish Devotion' is subtitled 'Celtic Songs, Hymns & Prayers' and seldom have I heard an album that so effortlessly leads the listener into a peaceful mood of divine devotion. With exceptional vocal and instrumental talents - Nigel (vocals, whistles, percussion, glockenspiel) and Julie (vocals, fiddle) helped by some masterly musicians - they have created an album of luminous quality. Even when they turn to an over-recorded hymn like "Be Thou My Vision" such is their deft approach that the listener is instantly enveloped in that majestic melody and stirring lyrics. Throughout it's the lyrics which prove to be the Camerons' forte. Taking some of the most haunting melodies in folk music like "She Moves Through The Fair", "Danny Boy" and "Scarborough Fair" and putting to them new words works wonderfully. Particularly powerful is an arrangement of the exquisite love poetry of "Song Of Songs" ("My lover said to me: 'The one I desire/You will soon be consumed by my furious fire") with a wistful lead vocal by Julie, making a classic recording. Equally heart-stopping is Nigel's stirring lead on the 19th century hymn "O Father, All Creating" and what he does with the words of a sixth century church father to create "St Brendan's Prayer". Few albums have affected me as deeply in recent times as 'Celtish Devotion' and I would recommend this collection even if you've yet to discover the undeniable spirituality to be found in the best Celtic-orientated music.
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