Irish music is particularly rich in songs relating to the celebration of Christmas. Cherish The Ladies, an all-female band made up of Irish-born and first generation Irish-American performers, has mined the purest gold for this delightful set. The 10 tracks are given sensitive yet robust acoustic treatments by a consort of top-notch players. Bandleader Joanie Madden's mastery of tin whistle, low whistle and flute has taken her all over the globe and onto dozens of albums. Lead singer Heidi Talbot's husky-sweet tone is further graced by refreshingly uncluttered phrasing. Mary Coogan's intricate plucked strings, Mirella Murray's lively yet mellow squeezebox, Donna Long's Cape-Breton-inflected piano and Marie Reilly¹s propulsive fiddle are all remarkable but each nonetheless meshes into a tightly arranged, flawless whole. The program evokes nostalgia for joyous childhood holidays long past but also reflects the wistful prayer for peace that a modern celebrant might offer up in difficult times. --Christina Roden
The critically acclaimed women's ensemble Cherish the Ladies extends its theme of traditional Irish music to the holidays. On Christmas Night features traditional Irish melodies and carols like "The Holly and the Berry" and "The Wexford Carol" interspersed with well-known Christmas carols, including "O Come All Ye Faithful," "What Child Is This," "The Little Drummer Boy," "We Three Kings," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Silent Night," and "The First Noel." All of the arrangements are brought forth with a new freshness by the use of the group's unique Celtic instrumentation (penny whistles, fiddles, accordion, concertina, piano, guitar, mandolin, banjo, flutes) and beautiful harmonies, and then heightened by the inclusion of world-class Irish stepdancing.