Not your father’s Purple Haze. This is your Irish granny’s Purple Haze. If your Irish granny was the legendary Maire Brennan, that is. I suppose she’s referring to some mystical misty dell, not whatever drug references most of us associate the phrase ‘purple haze’ with. It’s all about the atmosphere, anyway, which to me feels very cozy. This is prime teatime music, and I find it very comforting. I guess a lot of people find Irish music ‘comforting’ and it’s kind of a coffeehouse cliche, but still… Cliches have to come from somewhere, after all.
And now for some relaxing spa music. Honestly, I’m not at all sure how Celtic music came to be associated with spas, but we do tend to think of it as definitely conducive to relaxation, and vaguely ‘good for you’ on a spiritual level. Moya Brennan has been part of the Irish music revival since it began in sixties, and remains one of its best known figures. She’s seen her musical heritage go from about as unhip as a set of muddy Wellies, to pretty edgy, to widely respected and commercially viable. You can thank her for making the harp a pop instrument, and you can blame her sister for that crap you hear at the spa.
Presenting the beautiful, headache alleviating, nymphlike voice of Maire Brennan. She may have been overshadowed by her more album selling sister Enya, but in my eyes, Maire is the real legend. (And a charming lady as well.) The market for traditional Irish music is not huge, compared to the market for fembots, but in that market Maire Brennan and Clannad are pillars.
Slightly more New Agey than her classic stuff, but her voice is still like a bell.
There’s something very romantic about Irish music. Maybe because Ireland itself has such a romantic landscape. Or it’s something in the culture, a sadness and passion. Maybe it’s just the effect of Clannad’s melodies and Moya Brennan’s voice. Doesn’t matter why, it just is. Soothing and heartwarming. Even Irish fiddle type music that you get drunk and dance a jig to. That’s not exactly soothing in the sleepytime way, but it’s definitely happy-making. Of course it can also be corny and maudlin, but there’s a toothless and cheap version of every good thing, and that should’t turn you off of the real quality stuff. I mean, the whole Riverdance thing is like the Lipton teabag of Irish culture – a flavorless, watered-down imitation of something it’s not even in the same ballpark with.
I don’t understand people who don’t like Celtic music. Like, honestly, what’s not to love? I do understand people who can’t stand New Age music, because I’m one of them. And it’s New Age music that gives regular traditional Celtic music a bad name, because it steals, whitewashes and castrates so much from it. You have to give Clannad and Moya Brennan laurels for being on the forefront of the Celtic music revival in the sixties and seventies. But then you also have to give them a little kick in the butt for being at the forefront of New Age in the eighties. On the other hand, a lot of things sucked in the 80’s – not even David Bowie was immune to sucking in the 80’s. So you can’t blame Moya Brennan for having a period of 80’s and 90’s New Agey suckness. She’s gone back to more traditional roots in recent years, and as you can plainly hear, her voice has lost none of its angelic lustre.
This is borderline too New Age for me, but where Moya Brennan’s beautiful voice is concerned, I can forgive a little sappy production. The lady is amazing.