The Chieftains,
The Long Road Home
(Wicklow, 1998)

If you're in the mood for an Irish tearjerker, you could do much worse than to choose the soundtrack to the TV miniseries The Long Journey Home.

Produced by Paddy Moloney and featuring his band -- you've probably heard of them, they're called the Chieftains -- the CD is best described as "heartbreakingly beautiful."

The music focuses on the Irish diaspora and, consequently, it's mostly sad and mournful, full of longing for lost homes, friends, family and loves. It's not just a Chieftains album, however; the landmark band is well known for mixing it up with other top-notch musicians (in Irish and other fields of music), and that's certainly the case here.

Notable appearances include Van Morrison ("Shenandoah"), Mary Black ("Paddy's Lamentation/Ships are Sailing"), Vince Gill ("The Bard of Armagh/The Streets of Laredo"), Sinead O'Connor ("Skibbereen"), Eileen Ivers ("O'Donnell's Lament/Reel with the Beryle") and Elvis Costello with Anuna ("Long Journey Home"). The Chieftains and the Irish Film Orchestra join forces for most of the instrumental work.

This is mostly sad music, but it's uplifting all the same, a testament to the Irish tradition of expressing sorrow through song.

music review by
Tom Knapp

27 December 2014

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