Personnel: Ewan Cowley (guitar, bouzouki); Tommy Martin (whistle, pipes); Anthony Byrne (bagpipe); Shane McVicker (piano, keyboards); Eoghan O'Neill (bass guitar); Ray Fean (drums); Andrew Reilly (percussion).
Recording information: Ocean Way Studios, Los Angeles; RTE Sound One, Dublin; StudioTWO, Dublin; Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin.
Illustrator: Synan O'Mahony.
Photographers: Lili Forberg; Kip Carroll; Jason Forbart.
Not exactly a greatest-hits compilation and not quite a complete set of new material, 2014's Emerald: Musical Gems finds the internationally renowned Celtic pop quartet, which in this incarnation includes the talents of Chlo‰ Agnew, Susan McFadden, M ir‚ad Nesbitt, and Lisa Lambe, the latter of whom joined the group in 2012 for the Believe LP, offering up re-imagined (as in re-recorded) renditions of traditional fan favorites like "She Moved Through the Fair," "Danny Boy," "D£laman," "Mo Ghile Mear," "N¡l S‚'n L ," and "The Parting Glass." Like all Celtic Woman offerings, Emerald is ultimately a classy affair that strikes a nice balance between the past and the present, hitting familiar beats and cadences with the precision of a well-oiled political machine whose sole purpose is to please its base, and it's kind of nice to hear the group focus almost solely on material that evokes the misty, post-Riverdance patina that the album's moniker suggests. That said, the sounds of the Emerald Isle may dominate the majority of the collection, but that doesn't stop the group from tossing in a trio of new interpretations of concert staples with "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Amazing Grace," and the Secret Garden-penned, Josh Groban-popularized power ballad "You Raise Me Up," the latter of which arrives (mercifully) at the album's end. A bonus DVD includes an entire live concert filmed in 2013 on the campus of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. ~ James Christopher Monger