Ever since 1988's Irish Heartbeat, the Chieftains relied on guest artists on their own albums, ranging from Celtic peers to pop, rock, and country superstars, since the cameos virtually guaranteed that each new album would be treated as an event.
That's also the case with 2000's Water from the Well, a traditional Irish folk/Celtic album filled with guest spots by traditional Celtic musicians.
That might not seem like an anomaly from a band that had a great deal to do with the popularization of Celtic music in the last 25 years of the 20th century, but it had been a while since the bandmembers devoted themselves to the music so completely as they do here.
Does it work? Yes.
This is a rare incident where a preponderance of guests -- and there are over 20 cameos here -- doesn't result in a sluggish, carefully considered record.
Not only do the Chieftains have a great time embracing traditional dances and ballads, but their guests invigorate them, resulting in a very strong listen.
It's the kind of record that only a seasoned band could make; it might not be groundbreaking or definitive, but it is an accomplished yet enthusiastic set of songs where the joy is in the little details.