CD REVIEW: Arvel Bird - Titanic Centennial
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Arvel Bird
Celtic, Orchestral, Rock
Instrumentation, brilliant song Interpretation
Nashville Tennessee Celtic performing artist Arvel Bird releases a Commemorative Special Edition CD entitled Titanic Centennial in 2012 (Singing Wolf Records). Reading now from the CD cover “Titanic Centennial Is an hour long musical voyage dedicated to the enduring spirit of the passengers and crew of the RMS Titanic. “My hope is that this CD will become a part of every enthusiast’s collection who is fascinated as I am by the great ship called Titanic” – Arvel Bird.
The CD kicks things off with a solitary intro piece entitled “Celtic Connection” that gently leads you by the hand into track 2 a compelling remake of the classic “Farewell to Ireland.” This impressive interpretation serves up inviting instrumentation, well-crafted musical interpretation via a hot to the touch fiddle virtuoso from Bird. Track 3 keeps thing moving in the festive direction with the heartfelt “Fire and Coal.” This piece presents impressive low end drum rhythm against passionate violin and guitar tandem with passionate musical delivery that flows and ebbs it’s way through to emotional fruition. Track 4: “Father Browne” shows us even more musical depth from Bird and company against a grand mosaic of exotic Celtic Orchestration and impressive musical soundscapes. This piece showcases a truly amazing songwriting interpretation from Bird as he makes this classic hymn his own. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical textures reminiscent of classic Celtic Folk, Americana and even Orchestral Rock. This is a perfect fit for Bird via this Historical format which fits together like hand in glove. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar and what you would expect from a CD like this. Besides the 4 piece standard You will also notice lush layers musical instrumentation layered everywhere which includes exotic orchestral elements, Celtic Whistles, Trumpet, Guitars, Strings, Percussive elements, Piano, Synthesizer and Bodhran. Zeroing in now on Bird, let me go on record and say this man can play the Violin. His playing is highly passionate and he makes the vital (artist to listener) emotional connection with his playing. Bird and company execute a few pin drop moments as well well clearly proving he is an artist worthy of your attention within the sonic space. From mesmerizing “Be British” to passionate “The Quest for Discovery” striking “Adrift in the Dark” and “White Star Lament” to heartfelt and my personal favorite “Over the Airwaves” this CD has something for just about everyone. This CD ends with Track 11 Distant Shore” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
I wish there were more vocals and lyrics to accommodate the subject matter of this centennial better. If one were to listen to this CD unaware of the subject matter I doubt they would get it. Music and lyrics would put a better face on this rather than just music. “Somewhere in Time“ definitely pushes the catalogue in this direction but it’s too little too late. At the end of the day this centennial misses the mark with respect to its intended theme. All songs over 5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I fully realize this is a subjective art form, but many of the aforementioned items do effect the CD’s overall marketability with respect to the Titanic brand and it's commercial viability.
From start to Titanic Centennial by Arvel Bird does exactly what it’s supposed to – remind you of the glory and tragedy of that great ship - The RMS Titanic. It’s strong suit - how well Bird and company make this CD his own via a truly brilliant musical interpretation of all songs. This is not a cheesy compilation that was cut and pasted together for the sake of Karaoke. It goes beyond that. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece on this entire catalogue. All pieces are short and sweet musical experiences, each one possessing its own signature groove and musical personality to call its own. The playing abilities of everyone involved is rock solid. Last but not least the lead musicianship of Arvel Bird just makes the whole thing work. This CD is a stark reminder of that fateful day where over 1,500 souls lost their lives at sea in the North Atlantic History is a very powerful thing in that respect and we should never forget the date of April 15, 1912.