Over forty years ago, a young family band came together to sing the local pub in County Donegal, owned by Moya and Enya Brennan’s father. Clannad’s sound was essentially Irish, underscored by the fact that they also sang in Gaelic. The native language was extensively spoken in North Western Ireland, but was considered a commercial death knell for anyone hoping to find success in the music industry. So when “The Theme From Harry’s Game,” sung exclusively in Irish, entered the British pop charts at number five, a glass ceiling shattered. Clannad’s theme song endured so that it also became the music by which U2 would finish off their concerts in 1983 and 1987.
Now Clannad is back in fine fettle with their 18th studio album, “Nádúr,” which is the Irish for nature. Moya Brennan is now sixty-one, but her beguiling, ethereal voice has lost none of its charm. She sounds like a gentle breeze flowing through the songs, sung in both English and Irish. On “Nádúr,” the Brennan clan are joined by several special guests, but the songs were mainly penned by family members. “Setanta” is one of those airy, haunting songs which features the ‘bones’ played by Eamon Curley. Setanta was the childhood name of a character in Celtic mythology, Cuchulainn. “Kitty My Love,” the final track, is a well known traditional song, and again Moya Brennan renders the sentiment exquisitely. On “Turas Dhómhsa chon na Galldachd,” sung by Moya and her two brothers, the track finishes with a haunting bagpipe melody. The most lively track has to be “Tobar An tSaoil,” a dancing song again a mixture of male voices and Moya’s clear, sweet sound. Yes, Clannad are back at full throttle, and they have a big European tour starting in January 2014. So far, no mention of North America, but I can’t help hoping that it must be in the pipeline.