So Strong
by The Celtic Tenors, pop/classical (2002)
EMI Classics, ASIN B00005YUB4

Okay, so classically-trained Dublinese vocalists James, Niall, and Matthew will never grace the pages of Teen Beat or Seventeen, but these guys make pretty beautiful music with their harmonies. Their music is infused with poppish crowd-pleaser elements that purists may find off-putting, but I like it.

Then again, I have a soft spot for folk-tinged music of the British Isles, so I'm probably a bit biased here (ahem). Their very radio-friendly version of Nella Fantasia is a bit off-putting, even if the lads harmonize very beautifully with the angelic voices of the Vard Sisters. Their versions of Wings' Mull Of Kintyre, Roy Orbinson's A Love So Beautiful, and Freddy Mercury's Love Of My Life are pretty uninspired as well, as they are pretty much faithful versions with only the novelty of a three-part vocal arrangement to distinguish them from the originals.

But the lads are pure magic when they are reworking pieces like The Green Fields Of France, a wartime lament that manages to be inspiring at the same time, and The Town I Loved So Well is a familiar piece that works very well given the current state of the world today. And yes, the lads' heartfelt emotions shine through and clear, and I raise a mug of Guiness to them as I wipe away at my tears with my sleeve.

Jack McCarthy's tribute to the tragic, alcoholic Irish tenor jack Doyle, The Contender is given a beautiful melancholic glaze, while the inspiring South African tune Something Inside (So Strong) is given the appropriate inspiring/superheroic treatment.

Traditional Irish pieces like Fionnghuala and Ag Críost An Síol are moderately successful, maybe because I've heard better versions from other vocal groups, although these lads acquit themselves well with the latter, especially with the lightning-paced parts of this tune.

And yes, the predictable tenor/bass favorite, Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herg is here.

Ah, lads, must you be so predictable in the selection of music for your debut CD? The singing is very well-done to this amateur listener's ears, but all the usual politico-inspirational pieces (roughly half the number of songs of this album are those kind of pieces) sometimes make you guys seem misguidedly self-important.

This one is not bad at all, although its tame and predictable selection can work against it. Still, a fine debut lads. Wish I can come down to Dublin and see you all perform live. Maybe one of these days when I finally hit the lottery jackpot. I would to get involved in a pub brawl with your truly wonderful ve