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Clannad - Banba CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.06 | 16 ratings

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3 stars "Banba" follows Clannad's continued attempt to mix their Celtic folk sound and radio friendly soft rock. This time around, the band returns more to it's roots, which is a welcome return, but the track selection still has an overabundance of soft pop music to attract the masses. The unfortunate thing is that the pop songs can sound a little dated, but this time around, the song writing is often closer to the heart than on the last few albums.

Mel Collins plays sax on several of the tracks, giving some textural variety throughout, and there is still a lot of accompaniment done by synthesizers that seem out of place nowadays on this kind of folk album. The acoustic guitars are still there too, however, and they tend to make things more authentic. There is only one traditional Celtic song on this album, with 2 original songs sung in their native language. Other than that, everything else is in English, except for a refrain in "I Will Find You" sung in the Native American language. Some songs seem genuinely heartfelt while others still have that plastic feeling, but the harmonies are beautiful this time around, and feel authentic for the most part.

"Na Laethe Bhi" is an original composition. It is quite lush and has beautiful harmonies that seem to be somewhat processed with minimal background musical support from synthesizers. It is very slow and pensive, not your typical opening song for an album, but that is fine because it establishes the roots with a traditional sounding song. The instrumental break features a more traditional sounding instrument, but other than that, it is quite minimal, letting the vocals and harmonies carry the song.

"Banba Oir" is more modern sounding and a little more upbeat. It features some sax and synths with some percussion. Again, it is sung in the traditional language, but it is also an original song about Ireland.

"There for You" is the first English song on the album. Again, it is quite mellow, but immediately uses sax to drive the song. "Mystery Game" is a more minimal song with a better melody that's more unique. Where the previous song was a definite attempt at pop music, this one is more thoughtful. Their pop music is always better when it's not trying so hard to sound modern (at least what modern sounded like in 1993).

"Struggle" is more upbeat driven by acoustic and electric guitars. Not a bad track except the chorus is a little convoluted. A short guitar solo in the middle takes inspiration from David Gilmour. "I Will Find You" is a highlight of this album. It was the theme from the movie "Last of the Mohicans", and is one of my favorites from the band. It is beautiful and lush, very moving, very appropriate for the movie it supported, mostly minimal, yet with a heartfelt melody and great harmonies with a refrain sung in the tribe's language.

"Soul Searcher" features vocals by a guest male vocalist , a nice change that helps keep interest in the album by not making it sound too much the same. It is driven by acoustic guitar with sax added in playing the typical riffs when you expect them. There is a nice instrumental interlude from the guitar.

"Caide Sin Do'n Te Sin" is the only Traditional song on this album. Acoustic guitar and piano provide the foundation for the song which deals with traditional folk themes. "The Other Side" is an upbeat song with vocals sung in tandem harmony throughout and an acoustic interlude. Yes it's poppy, but it's one of their better pop songs.

"Sunset Dreams" is the only song not written by Ciaran Brennan, this time written by Noel Duggan. It is quite basic with guitars and synthesizers, and really nothing special. Its too laid back and just kind of hovers in the air without going anywhere. "A Gentle Place" ends the album with an instrumental with the flute as the feature instrument and acoustic guitar providing support.

Still not reaching their previous pinnacle, this album at least comes closer to the bands roots, staying mostly minimal throughout, but moving to pop territory once in a while. But the songs are better constructed here. Still, the album can only be considered good, not great, with a few highlights that will make it worthwhile to the fan and a few lovers of soft, lush rock.

TCat | 3/5 |


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