Average rating: 18 reviews out of stars, based on 18 reviewsratings
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Act Two In 2008, a live performance by this five member Irish vocal phenomenon -- produced by Sharon Browne and famed songwriter/composer Phil Coulter -- became an instant phenomenon on PBS, gaining viewership of five million people with over 1,200 showings across America. While audiences fell in love with Celtic Thunder's Irish charm, the pledge drive donations soared like their voices. Unique for the range of age of its Celtic members -- they were 16 to 41 when Act Two was released -- the group is backed by the Celtic Concert Orchestra and the traditional elements of Celtic lore in its shows. This mostly winsome follow-up to Celtic Thunder, which debuted at number one on the Billboard World Music Chart, starts out like any pleasant adult contemporary group project with soaring mainstream tune "Ride On" and the lovely inspirational ballads "A Bird Without Wings" and "My Boy" before they effectively embrace their ethnicity by getting (literally) jiggy with it on the infectious and percussive "Raggle Taggle Gypsy," the very traditional Irish singalong "Yesterday's Men," and of course, a graceful a cappella twist on "Danny Boy." Uniquely fusing these traditions and the rock era, they also do a hypnotic, vocal and strumming guitar take on Paul McCartney's often overlooked "Mull of Kintyre." Between these joyful reminders of the group's heritage and the energy of Celtic music, they go for the mainstream heartstrings (? la Il Divo but slightly less dramatically) on originals like the quirky, tango-flavored "Heartbreaker" and adult contemporary classics like "I Want to Know What Love Is" and the sweeping "Nights in White Satin." The handful of truly magical winks to Ireland far outstrip the attempts to do the mainstream pop thing, and the collection would be even more appealing if it went for Celtic Thunder throughout rather than take these lush but hardly unique detours. Maybe on Celtic Thunder Act Three, they'll get the lightning crackling even more. ~ Jonathan Widran, All Music Guide
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