ALBUM REVIEW: Santiago
RCA/BMG, 1996 | 09026-68602-2
By Sarah Adams
The Chieftains latest release, "Santiago", is a journey into the Celtic region of Galicia featuring Los Lobos, Linda Ronstadt, Carlos Nunez and a number of Galician and Spanish artists. The album is a tantalizing mixture of energy and discovery. This is not the Chieftains first foray into music of other Celtic lands. The first foray was Chieftains 10: Cotton-Eyed Joe with Welsh and Manx tunes and Breton music in Celtic Wedding.
The album tracks reflect a journey that the listener can experience while listening. The first track "Txalaparta" sets the listener up for a wonderful and energetic tour of Galician music with out forgetting to touch on the medieval past of the music and Latin American and Cuban connections. The first five tracks of the album are linked together under the banner "Pilgrimage to Santiago" . It reflects the beginning of the journey and shows the colors and sounds of the region touching on both spirit of the people and spriituality of the landscape. The other tracks on the the album compliment and strengthen the leading track and the builds upon the "Pilgrimage to Santiago" to complete the album.
Some of the tracks I enjoyed the most are "Guadalupe" with Los Lobos and Linda Ronstadt, "Galleguita/Tutankhamen" with Ry Cooder , and "Tears of Stone" It was tough to pick these tunes because all the tracks are strong and complement each other. "Guadelupe" stands out in my mind because how similar the music of Mexico is to Galicia and the Chieftains masterfully played along with them. It was also nice to see Linda Ronstadt singing in Spanish. "Galleguita/Tutankhamen" captured my attention becuase of blending of the Chieftains style of playing with Cuban music and Afro rhythms made the song a fun track to listen to. One can not help but tap your toes and sway with the rhythms. The track reflects the energy there must have been when it was originally recorded. My personal favorite is the love song "Tears of Stone". Beautifully done and true is the sentiment the song evokes. The liner notes for this track reflect the true meaning of this song. I also liked the "Dueling Chanters" track featuring Paddy Moloney and Carlos Nunez and how the pipes interplayed with each other. "Dublin in Vigo" was another fun track to listen to and reflected the spirit of a live session in Vigo, Spain. If you have seen the video for The Long Black Veil, you willl notice The Chieftains playing with some Galician albums and if you listen closely you will notice the song they are playing also appears in "Dublin in Vigo" on the album.
The album was produced expertly by Paddy Moloney and mixed by Jeffery Lesser. The album has a great sense of flow and spirit and great fun to listen to. It is a wonderful journey to someplace exotic but yet familiar. It is also nice to see The Chieftains explore and interpret different music because it can only broaden there horizons to future endeavors. It is a fun album to listen to and a wonderful way to explore Galician music and how it reaches around the world.