Reviewed by Brendan O'Regan
One thing that stands out in this album is quality - the voices of these best selling priests from Northern Ireland, the orchestral and choral arrangements, the sound and production values in general. The voices sound classically trained, but, as with previous releases by the Priests, this has a broad appeal way beyond the classical audience. One thing you can fault, though, is the choice of material. It could have been far more adventurous but instead we get the over-recorded yuletide standards - "Away In A Manger", "Joy To The World", "Silent Night", with "Sussex Carol" being the most unfamiliar piece. But there is one big surprise - on "Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth" the Priests are joined on vocals by Shane McGowan of the Pogues! Definitely not a likely or predictable combination, but it works wonderfully, with McGowan's gravel voice contrasting radically with the sweet tones of the Priests - worth checking out the video on YouTube. It's the last track on the album, and strangely the same song by the Priests alone is also featured on the album. The sleevenotes are comprehensive with lots of background detail on each carol. If you missed this album last Christmas, get in early for the 2011 celebrations.
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|Global Superstars The Priests – Father Eugene O’Hagan, his brother Martin and their old school friend David Delargy – are amongst the most recognised and successful acts in both the religious and secular worlds, having sold over 2 million albums. They release their new album of carols entitled Noël on 6 December.|
Noël is The Priests’ third album and the follow up to 2009’s Harmony. The album looks set to be one of the biggest this Christmas and features some of the most cherished seasonal songs of all time – everything from Ding Dong Merrily On High to O Come All Ye Faithful, Sussex Carol to Silent Night – it is a solemnly beautiful record, stately and humble and full of grace.
“We have given each of these songs a different interpretation and a little priestly twist,” grins Martin O’Hagan. “I hope it will get everybody into the festive spirit, and I hope there will be something here for everyone.”
The Priests’ self-titled debut album was released in 2008 and stormed the Official album charts to Number. 5 and became the Fastest Selling UK debut for a classical act – as certified by The Guinness Book of World Records.
They have sung all across the world, and to audiences that included the British Royal Family and the German Prime Minister, and, more recently, been nominated for two Classical Brit Awards. The Priests will be sharing a stage with the Pope before a crowd of 80,000 in Hyde Park on 18 September and untold millions will be watching on television at home.