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The 1980s were the most fruitful and creative period for the Irish family-based collective Clannad, and "Macalla" is the most representative of their albums of the time. Maire Brennan's soft, yet clear and confident, vocals give the lead to the assured songwriting of brothers Pol and Ciaran. Here we've got a bit of everything they did best.
They had already become well-known from the strikingly original style featured in the "Harry's Game" theme. The brief "Caislean Oir" here is just as good an example of those gloopy layered Irish Gaelic vocal harmonies and spooky synth humming. Elsewhere, this album is an elegant crossover full of nationally-tinged pop songs. Most familiar is "In a Lifetime", where the hammy guest vocal from U2's Bono stands out oddly against Maire Brennan's lilting tones and the synth atmospherics. "Closer To Your Heart" is very catchy but tends to tweeness. For the strongest track, "The Wild Cry" comes close, but the best of the bunch is "Almost Seems (Too Late To Turn)", a sparse and spacious nocturnal ballad. More purely Irish is the gentle acoustic "Buachaill On Eirne", and we also have a bit of folky frolicking among the mushrooms on "Journey's End".
September 18, 2004