Eileen Ivers is a fiddler, and from the first notes of Hark the Herald Angels Sing on her new Christmas album,An Nollaig, you understand why she’s won All Ireland Championships and been a principal fiddler with Riverdance: Hark is is a carol turned into a jig with a lively chorus of singers along for the fun, and Ivers clearly leading the dance with her fiddle. The ancient Wexford Carol shows her supporting and sharing the quietly intense music with singer James Riley. A shower of reels including Oiche Nollaig and High Road to Lincoln follows, Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring gets turned slightly on its head, and the American spiritual Do You Hear What I Hear? fits well with its Celtic counterparts. Powerhouse singer Susan McKeown joins for Don Oiche Ud mBeithill/One Night in Bethlehem, a tune from Charlie Brown’s Christmas pops up, and the reflective reverence of O Holy Night brings things to a close. A refreshing take on familiar songs and tunes, along with a few perhaps less familiar, fine ensemble work, and a Christmas project that’s both Irish and American and adds to the holiday music of both.

Kerry Dexter’s credits include VH1.com, SonicNet, the folk music magazine Dirty Linen, Strings, The Encyclopedia of Ireland the Americas, The MusicHound Guides, and others. She also writes about the arts and creative practice at Music Road, and contributes to the eclectic review of music videos at Fred Bals’ Series of Tubes.

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