In the tradition of the Buddha Bar and chill-out discs comes the moody northern flow of The Celtic Lounge II, a collection of lilting, heartrending ballads from the likes of Tina Malia, Gary Stadler, Stephanie Stadler, and Sharon Knight. These artists are frequent openers on chill-out discs, but it's quite a different experience to have them all assembled together, like a calling of the very mellowest of Celtic tribes for a postfeast dance and loll amidst the rolling moss and mist. If you are new to the world of Celtic chill-out, then this is a great place to start. It's the ideal disc for unwinding at home after an evening out, driving through the rolling hills in a warm spring wind, or having late night drinks in a misty garden under a full moon.
Tina Malia kicks things off with "Lilac Blooms (Under the Rising Moon)" her fragile, clear glass voice emanating like rippling waves of healing yin energy among the darker drones, a lovely green princess bestowing blessings along a line of dark, ready warriors about to journey deep into the forest. When she sings "I want my hands on the breath of life," it's at once spiritual and sensual, a declaration of abandonment and a vow of faith. A standout amidst the lush orchestral sweep of most tracks is >David Gordon's hushed solo-piano rendition of the old Irish drinking standard, "The Foggy Dew." He effortlessly captures all the melancholy ache of the song and some spiritual transcendence besides.
Gary Stadler plays on two tracks with two different chanteuses: Stephanie for the melting ice-cap melodies of "Faraway" and Wendy Rule for the cinematic sweepings of "Fly Away." Her voice vaguely girlish and innocent, Rule's request to "Fly away with me / Release the ground below / There's everything to see / And everywhere to go," over gently unraveling piano, has the graceful precision of a recital that's so good you forgot you were dragged there. Stephanie is more of a diva, cooing long, bending vowels over the rolling keys and gently flowing rivers of Celtic harp. A fine collection of northern flavors, The Celtic Lounge II makes coming home from a hard day at the office seem like coming home to a warm hearth after a cold month away on the windswept sea. – Daily OM