Kate Price,
The Isle of Dreaming
(OmTown, 2000)

The latest release from Kate Price is a showcase for her ever-maturing sound, offering more depth and emotion than her previous releases. She has been compared to Loreena McKennitt and Enya in the past, which is indeed a compliment. The Isle of Dreaming will invite further comparisons, but this album finally sees Price coming into her own.

The Isle of Dreaming isn't just another misty-eyed Celtic album. Yes, you'll find a Celtic harp and pennywhistle on this album, but they show up right alongside the tabla, dumbek, cello and even an electric sitar. Price is joined by a dozen other musicians, including new age artists Spencer Brewer and Paul McCandless.

There are heavy Middle Eastern overtones mingling with Price's usual Celtic-inspired sounds, especially on the title track and the 10 minute "Voices of my People." "Andalusia" is obviously influenced by Spanish culture, while "The Phoenix" combines gypsy fiddle and dumbek with jazz harmonies in a delightful ballad. Other tunes meld all the various instruments together again with a few blues riffs and jazz beats. And, of course, don't forget Price's voice. Pure and darkly sensual, Price conveys both joy and sadness effortlessly, weaving back and forth between cultures and sounds. She manages to avoid sounding too new agey on "Mystic Warrior," a song filled with wordless vocal harmonies. And "Beloved" is a gem, sweet and romantic. (The pennywhistle definitely belongs on this one!)

Far too often, an artist can't build upon their earlier successes. Kate Price avoided this fate, and produced a charming, if not incredibly inventive, album. Celtic and new age fans alike will find something worthwhile, and those new to Price's music will find an incentive to come back for more.

[ by Crystal Kocher ]

Buy The Isle of Dreaming from Amazon.com.