First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2009, Volume 16, #11
Written by Kirk DeCordova
Tue November 24, 2009, 06:30 AM CST
In the wake of an immensely successful career with the chart-topping ensemble Celtic Woman, singer and harpist Orla Fallon has resumed exploring her options as a solo act. Although she embarks upon several new musical directions on her sophomore outing Distant Shore, Fallon also remains true to her Irish roots. She has stated that she wanted to record songs that convey a message reflecting a cohesive set of emotions, but at first glance, Distant Shore seems to be lacking a true theme. Nevertheless, upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that Fallonís versatile voice serves as the unifying force that binds the material together to tell the story of her musical journey. As a result, the album ó which mixes traditional, contemporary, and original compositions ó will thrill both fans of her work with Celtic Woman and newcomers.
Distant Shore begins with a trio of captivating pop songs: Who Knows?, the title track, and the endearing Dancing in the Moonlight. While Distant Shore is a dreamy tune of lost love, Dancing in the Moonlight proves to be the true gem of the collection. Fallon wrote the melody on her harp, and the lyrics took shape as she walked through the woods near her home. The bulk of Distant Shore, however, is composed of ballads that are both beautifully produced and well suited to the particular talents of Fallon. It is easy to allow the album to become mere background music, but Distant Shore deserves a better fate. It should be enjoyed for the richness of its vocals, musicianship, and tasteful production.
Fallonís Irish background is the other facet that dominates Distant Shore. Sung in Gaelic, the bouncy Bean An Tiís meaning will elude most listeners. Yet, Fallonís voice ó which is rhythmic, clear, and alluring ó thrives in its natural environment, rendering this point moot.
Bean An Ti isnít the only Celtic presence on the album, either. Pipes, whistles, and fiddle are heard frequently throughout the collection in tracks like My Land and Eleanor Plunkett: Trip to Shanbally/Michael OíDwyerís. On the former tune, Fallon convincingly yearns for her homeland, while the latter selection begins with the simple plucking of a harp before it builds into an aggressive melody that eventually features a full array of Celtic instrumentation.
While she is capable of composing songs that convey the richness of her heritage, Fallon is equally adept at bringing a fresh perspective to the works of others. Several tracks on Distant Shore ó Little Featís country-tinged Voices on the Wind, Sarah Siskindís sentimental Simple Love, and Stephen Fosterís melancholy masterpiece Hard Times ó initially may seem surprising, if not downright odd. Yet, Fallon succeeds in stamping them with her own unique style.
By her own admission, Fallon has invested tremendous amounts of emotion and energy into the making of Distant Shore. Throughout the collection, she strikes a perfect balance between traditional Celtic sensibilities and contemporary styles. Fallon didnít make a conscious move toward pop music. Instead, she followed her heart by simultaneously looking back to her roots and forward to her emerging career. Distant Shore is a worthy addition to her canon, one that is filled with a variety of treasures and pleasant surprises.
Of Further Interest...
Distant Shore is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2009 The Music Box