Caroline Peyton,
Celtic Christmas Spirit
(Green Hill, 1998)

Caroline Peyton isn't a familiar name, but her voice has been heard in Disney films including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Her name might stick if you take time to listen to Celtic Christmas Spirit, Peyton's foray into holiday traditions. Peyton makes excellent use of sacred and secular traditions to assemble an album-length hymn to Christmas -- and it's a shoo-in favorite for anyone fond of Enya, although Peyton follows a more traditional approach in her music.

There are pieces of well-known tunes, such as "I Saw Three Ships" and "Coventry Carol," but much of this music is less well known. Still, Peyton and co-producer Brendan Harkin have arranged various traditional Irish and Yuletide tunes into a distinctive, personal style which makes Celtic Christmas Spirit a pleasure to hear.

Besides Peyton's great vocals, the album features Harkin on mandolin and guitar, plus nine additional musicians. Elizabeth Reed provides coaching so Peyton can handle vocals in Gaelic as well as English. Combined, it's a great package you'll enjoy over and over again.

[ by Tom Knapp ]