As lead vocalist for her family band Clannad over the past 26 years, Maire Brennan helped spearhead the revival of Irish folk music and Gaelic singing. On her recent solo albums, however, Brennan has pursued an original mix of Christian lyrics, New Age arrangements and "Riverdance"-like Celtic-pop. This has brought her considerable commercial success if less certain artistic success. She sticks to the formula on her new disc, "Whisper to the Wild Water."
Brennan possesses a lovely soprano, but she doesn't do it justice by remaining in a breathy whisper as often as she does here. This soft, amorphous vocal approach does fit the dreamy soundscapes of lush synthesizer chords and hypnotic drum loops she has borrowed from her sister (and former Clannad member) Enya.
Sung in both English and Gaelic, the spiritual lyrics (written by Brennan, her husband Tim Jarvis and her co-producer Denis Woods) are too vague to seem overly preachy. But songs such as "Follow the Word" and the title track are also too nebulous, musically as well as lyrically, to make much of an impression.
Appearing Sunday at the Birchmere.
To hear a free Soundbite from Maire Brennan, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8122. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)