The powerful imagery of the season, and the accompanying wintry snows, lend themselves to this romanticism. Moya Brennan’s elegant airy Christmas gift is perfect for your December celebrations. “An Irish Christmas” adds a gentle Celtic twist to the familiar hymns, bringing an artistic flair with traditional and contemporary instrumentation. Brennan’s take is not of the hearty, cheery American style, but more of a hushed, reverent slant, which comes across better on “Oiche Chuin (Silent Night)” than on the traditionally upbeat “Deck the Halls.” Her ethereal vocal stylings create an atmosphere of intimate wonder, so appropriate on many of these songs. The closing “Oiche Chuin” sounds like it could be the soundtrack for Creation. The quietly adoring “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “Love Came Down at Christmas” are written for just such classic tones. Many will be lead into a long-lost Christmas awe by Brennan’s glorious interpretations. The new songs are a gorgeous melding of the ancient and the modern. The lumbering instrumental beauty of “Gabriel’s Message” bears her breathy voice like the precious gift it is.
The pristine arrangements exhibit her understated creativity. Her rollicking rendition of “Joy to the World” is a stellar percussive performance, delightfully and surprisingly muscular. The opening “Carol of the Bells” captures the same inspired energy, with its lovely lilting vocals and fervent strings, leading into a beautiful crescendo of bell-driven rejoicing. The effect is stunning; the project is wonderfully book-ended by this standout track and the Gaelic closer. Moya Brennan’s “An Irish Christmas” will add an air of elegance to your Christmas this year.