Will Millar,
The Lark in the Clear Aire
(Chacra Alternative, 1994)

The quote on the front cover says, "Let your ruffled thoughts drift away into the melodies of the Celtic World," and that is exactly what will happen when you listen to this CD. Put together by and featuring Will Millar, former leader of the Irish Rovers, this album contains all instrumentals. As Will says of his 30 years traveling around the world with the Irish Rovers, "sometimes ... the words got in the way of the beautiful Celtic melodies." The result for this CD is a sound that is easy on the ears as well as the heart and soul.

Released in 1994, the tunes are timeless. The title cut, "Lark in the Clear Aire," begins with the trills of birdsong and beautiful sounds of Denis Donnelly's Irish harp. There is a wonderful medley he calls "Islands," that includes "Dark Island," a particularly mournful "Mist Covered Mountains," "Rhumm" and "Farewell to Tarwathie." In the background, you hear the soothing sounds of waves crashing to shore. "Bonnie Kellswater" has the sweet sound of a babbling brook at the end.

Other favorites include Mary Ross on accordion and Nolan Murray on mandolin for "Slieve Gallon Braes" paired with "Sally Gardens," and "Carrickfergus" paired with "Mary of Dungloe." Of course, I was surprised to find "Ashokan Farewell" as the last tune in "The Irish Brigade" medley, along with "Bold Fenian Men" and "Skibereen," but mandolin, fiddle and tin whistle alternately take the lead, and it's all good.

Many talented musicians accompany Millar on this recording. Will's pennywhistle is featured on almost all of the selections, but he is also joined by Denis Donnelly on Irish harp, critically acclaimed Michael Creber on piano, Canadian "Instrumentalist of the Year" Nolan Murray on fiddle, viola, and mandolin, fellow Rovers George Millar on guitar and Joe Millar on harmonica, Joe's son Ian Millar on guitar, Mark Rogers on cello, Alex Olson on acoustic bass and Mary Ross on accordion. It's a truly talented collection of musicians playing a truly delightful collection of tunes.

[ by Alanna Berger ]
Rambles: 30 December 2001

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