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Maire Brennen - Perfect Time

Review by Paul M. Carhart
Originally published in The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM)

Maire Brennen, new artist, right? Wrong. New, perhaps, to the Christian market but hardly new at all. Brennen's vocals with the Celtic-pop group Clannad (with whom she has been performing and recording for 28 years) can be heard on a myriad of soundtracks including "Patriot Games."

Brennen first took a tentative step into the Christian music market as a guest artist on Iona's 1995 release, Journey Into The Morn, playing Celtic harp, singing background vocals and coaching Iona vocalist, Joanne Hogg in Gaelic (the ancient Irish language) for the opening track.

Now, with Perfect Time, Maire (pronounced "Moy-a") Brennen shows us just how versed she is in Gaelic, performing no less than three of the ten tracks (two of which are instrumental) completely in that language, another two in both Gaelic and English. Thankfully, Brennen provides translation in the liner notes -- not that a translation is necessary. The sweeping expanse of the canvas of Perfect Time crosses the language barrier. Brennen proves on this outing that music truly is the universal language.

Musically and stylistically, Brennen will appeal to fans of Iona and Enya the latter of which is actually her sister. Brennen's voice is a perfectly tuned instrument, as precise as her harp playing and every track is produced with lush orchestral arrangements steeped with Celtic instruments (flutes and harps mainly), Irish melodies and flawless performances.

Perfect Time tends to be less a pop album than a classical one with some pop sensibilities thrown in for good measure. Choirs of interweaving background vocals enhance the opening track ("The Big Rock") which can more easily be heard on the instrumental version at the end of the album. This is not just a Celtic album thinly disguised as a Christian album, as evidenced in "Perfect Time" and "Heal This Land", two of the completely English tracks. Both are lyrical conversations with God in which Brennen concedes to His greatness, power and control. The translations of the Gaelic tracks also bring an unmistakable Christian message. For example, the translation for "Na Páistí (The Children)" reads as follows:

He said let the little children come to me For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these He told us to be true like little children For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these He took the children in His arms and hugged them Put His hands on them and blessed them

Indeed, Perfect Time plays like an Irish Christian soundtrack, opening and closing with alternate versions of the same theme song and filling in the tracks between with sweeping anthems and soothing ballads.

With the success of Irish-inspired music from Riverdance to Titanic and the recent growth in Christian music, it seems Maire Brennen has released her Christian debut at the Perfect Time.


Related Information

For a year or so I was a CD reviewer for The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM) where this review was originally published.

- Paul M. Carhart


  © 1998 Paul M. Carhart, all rights reserved, all media.