In a brief but insightful documentary about the creation of their gently transcendent, traditional new album Celtic Fairy Dream, 2002’s Randy Copus made a comment that seems uniquely prescient for its release in the Spring of 2020, when the world is going through unprecedented collective challenges. Speaking long before the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “The more stressful times become, the more we need relaxing music to take us away from some of that stress. If our music can help with that, we’ve done something good.”
Blending their passions for pop, folk, prog-rock, ambient and neo-classical music Randy (piano, electric cello, guitar, bass, keyboards) and his wife Pamela (flutes, harp, keyboards, the wind instrument WX5) have been doing just that, creating an inspiring new age fusion for nearly 30 years. With the addition of their multi-talented teenage daughter Sarah (vocals, Celtic harp, baritone ukulele, piano, Irish whistle) in 2014, they’ve incorporated more traditional, lilting Irish vibes as well. While colorful, gracefully seductive dreamscapes have always been their trademark, somehow every note, every caressing texture and especially every emotion conveyed by Sarah’s ethereal voice (as she sings in English, Gaelic and Welsh) on Celtic Fairy Dream seems more essential now than ever.
Though 2002 released one album in between – 2018’s A World Away, which I described as “a splendid journey from start to finish, bookended with two songs showcasing Sarah’s gossamer grace” as a vocalist - Celtic Fairy Dream is fashioned as a powerful sequel to their 2016 set Celtic Fairy Lullaby. Business-wise the story goes that the trio recently signed a recording contract with The Cutting Edge Group (Myndstream). Flying over from the UK to meet them in Texas, he immediately said he’d love to see a thematic follow-up; a beautiful avalanche of fan letters for the original project also made it the obvious choice.
As a thematic through line, it’s as if the first album led us into a meditative state where we could drift off – and now, it’s time for the music to ease us off to slumberland and provide the soundtrack to the peaceful adventures our subconscious minds co-create with them. As Pamela says, “I wouldn’t say that the tracks are necessarily a connected narrative, but rather a book of fairy tales designed to flow from one story to the next as the sleeper slips away into dreams.” The titles are provocative and spark the imagination.
While for maximum chill and deep immersion, these ten tracks should be listened to as a full experience, there are a few highlights you should perhaps note before you slip into their comforting beauty.
The wafting opener “Castle of Dromore,” in which Sarah’s English vocals are backed with lush strings and mystical touches, is an Irish lullaby about a mother comforting her child to sleep. It’s all about the safety of those castle walls – something we can all relate to in this time of sheltering. From there, 2002 takes on a floating journey to experience “The Green Fields of Autumn,” where Sarah’s voice, Randy’s soft guitar and Pamela’s sweet harp illuminate this traditional song which was popularized by the Irish supergroup Clannad.
The beautiful combination of voice and guitar on “Lullaby” and reflects the reality that sometimes, dreams and lullabies are sometimes the same thing. The blend of vocals and dramatic synth wash achieves the same emotional effect on the traditional Irish lullaby “Close Your Eyes,” while the equally delicate and otherworldly Irish lullaby “Little Bird” allows 2002 to take all types of our winged friends on the trip into that gentle night.
Other highlights among the vocal tunes include the hymn-like harp showcase “David of the White Rock,” a soulful traditional Welsh air and the richly symphonic English language Irish folk tune “She Moved Through the Fair. Though we miss Sarah’s angelic voicings, some tunes, like the late 18th Century air “South Wind” and the serenely atmospheric, flute driven, harp laced “Genevieve’s Waltz,’ are conveyed perfectly without the human voice element.