Moya Brennan and Lisa Gerrard & Patrick Cassidy

Record Reviews

Phases and Stages

Moya Brennan

Two Horizons (Decca)

Lisa Gerrard & Patrick Cassidy

Immortal Memory (4AD) Nothing's more elegant or striking than an accomplished Celtic female vox. It soothes like a mother's love, while simultaneously exuding the pain of separation. Two such singers, Moya Brennan and Lisa Gerrard, have new albums apart from their formative bands, the seminal Celtic band Clannad and the minor key fusion outfit Dead Can Dance, respectively. Two Horizons' theme is of a blind oracle that speaks of the visionary power of an exceptional harp, the most sacred Irish instrument. The title track and instrumental "Harpsong" are graceful highpoints, the album oozing Brennan's velvety voice. Sadly, the slick recording is like a heavily varnished table; the shine overpowers the wood grain's pulchritude. There's more than a little of Brennan's younger sister Enya in Two Horizons. Since Dead Can Dance, Australian Gerrard has released solo albums and sung on the soundtracks to Gladiator and Whale Rider, among others. Her post-DCD work isn't always as good as her best with DCD, but her stunning, shimmering voice rises above any misconstrued fray. Continuing her tradition of male musical partners, Gerrard works here with respected Irish composer Patrick Cassidy. With Gerrard's melismatic singing in Gaelic, Aramaic, and Latin, Immortal Memory, her third proper solo album, has all the dulcet flavors for which she's known. Still, in "Amergin's Invocation" or taken as a whole, Immortal Memory is music for a film yet to be shot. And without the accompanying celluloid, it doesn't always stand tall by itself. "Abwoon (Our Father)" is an exception, coming close to orchestrated Gregorian chant. Topping Duality, from 1988, Immortal Memory still doesn't possess the necessary tension of DCD's best or her wonderful 1995 solo debut, The Mirror Pool. But both Moya Brennan and Lisa Gerrard prove that, even in less-than-perfect settings, a womanly Celtic voice is rarified beauty.

(Two Horizons) **

(Immortal Memory) **.5

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