Dear Music Appreciators,
VOICE OF AGES is a joyful 50th anniversary celebration and a gift from The Chieftains to their fans and lovers of traditional Irish music around the world. The album is not purely traditional Irish music, but every song has some special quality to link it to the spirit of The Chieftains and what they've been about for the last fifty years. As a collaborative album this is a chance to expose world music fans to some of the finest musical artists working outside of the top forty today, and to expose fans of those artists to The Chieftains.
The album includes seventeen songs across fifteen tracks, eleven of which are considered traditional, and those that are not are wrapped in traditional sounding arrangements.
Dylan fans will be interested (happily or sadly - you know how those Dylanphiles can be) to hear independent lit rockers The Decemberists perform "When the Ship Comes In," backed by The Chieftains. It has been nearly fifty years since Dylan and Joan Baez performed that song at The March on Washington.
Fans of recent Grammy-winning act The Civil Wars will relish the Americana duo's original song contribution to this album.
Of course the Bon Iver track will draw deserved attention. He's a popular and a busy boy these days...
19th century American music purists will be dismayed to see Stephen Foster's name left out of the credits on "Hard Times Come Again No More."
Take notice of all the names on the album cover. They are all worth knowing. Enjoy this for what it is - the collaborator performances are not all equally great (those of Carolina Chocolate Drops and Punch Brothers are probably the most noteworthy for their energy and charisma), but they all seem to have some measure of the joy of music infused into them by the restless, wandering spirit of The Chieftains.
But my favorite moment on VOICE OF AGES occurs on the fourteenth track, "The Chieftains in Orbit." NASA astronaut Cady Coleman greets the listener from outer space (onboard the International Space Station) and proceeds to play a bit of a lovely song on instruments borrowed from Matt Molloy and Paddy Maloney. It's touching to hear the ancient sounding Irish melody ring out true and clear from outer space - a reminder of the remarkable contrast between the microscopic physical size yet unknowably vast spirit of mankind. We press ever onward in our unending journey through infinite time and space.