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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid - the best of their first three albums
I got hold of this album as part of the 'River Flows' boxset, which featured remastered versions of Iona's first 3 albums and a fourth CD of new material. Much as I love all the other albums on that compilation, it's 'Beyond These Shores' that I keep coming back to. It was the group's least 'concept-based' album so far, and as a result I find it more accessible than...
Published on 28 Sep 2003

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average
Pleasant enough but nothing to write home about. I don't think I'll be going for any more albums by this particular group.
Published 16 months ago by L.A.D.


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid - the best of their first three albums, 28 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
I got hold of this album as part of the 'River Flows' boxset, which featured remastered versions of Iona's first 3 albums and a fourth CD of new material. Much as I love all the other albums on that compilation, it's 'Beyond These Shores' that I keep coming back to. It was the group's least 'concept-based' album so far, and as a result I find it more accessible than 'The Book of Kells', which was a series of impressionistic pieces related to various pages of the eponymous manuscript.
The album loosely follows the life of St Brendan the Navigator, who is said to have made a voyage in a coracle with a few companions, travelling as far as Greenland (and beyond, if I remember rightly). The story is conveyed by means of atmospheric pieces ('View of the Islands' being one of my favourites) and more conventional songs, which work well even on their own (as witnessed on the live album 'Heaven's Bright Sun'). The 'Celtic' influence is still strong on this album (particularly in 'Today' and 'Machrie Moor') but it's tempered with Prog Rock/Jazz sensibilities (check out 'Bird of Heaven', which makes heavy use of irregular time signatures).

The boxset version of the album (and probably this one as well)ends with a beautiful vocal track called 'Beyond These Shores'. No obvious references to Brendan here, though clearly inspired by him - 'Wherever I may go, Your love surrounds me'. It seems like a call to follow God wherever He may lead, which is the ultimate lesson of Brendan's life. The melancholy, evocative ending of the album leaves you thinking, and that must be a good thing. It's the very essence of Celtic Christianity.
Iona are one of British music's best kept secrets. Buy the album and enjoy!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of a very good bunch, 2 Jun 2005
This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
If you haven't heard Iona, then you must buy at least one of their albums - now. This is the first I ever heard, and to this day, it's still my favourite.
The songs are all cleverly written, and of course, played with absolute virtuosity. The album has an overall feel that just works. Progressive Christian Celtic rock at its best. I've challenged many to find a more technically perfect group of musicians, and to this day, no-ones found even one.
There just aren't enough superlatives!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars uplifting in mind body and spirit, 15 Mar 2008
This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
This transcendent album is a rarity. It so happened I was in the middle of a major spiritual rebirth when I first heard this music and not only did it call to my Scottish roots and connect with my early love of prog rock stuff like Yes ('Bird of Heaven' - the end of the main riff quotes almost directly from 'the Ancient' from Topographic Oceans or what!) and Genesis, Floyd, Soft Machine et alia but it took me way beyond those 70's groups with a unique blend of all those influences and a spectacular new breadth of vision in the writing and soundscape in the production. Clannad had done good work in this area in 87 with 'Sirius' but never quite pushed on through to setting God at the centre of that album, leaving a listener with more questions than answers. Iona on the other hand stand tall and proud in their faith and show that with a true devotion to God and a preparedness to let the Holy Spirit work through their hearts, hands and voices, a multi dimensional experience beyond any acid trip is available for the humble listener every time he or she tunes into this. I love everything on this album and the mark of its deep effect on me is that I will be having the last (title) track played as the curtains close at my cremation. The fact that Iona went on to write another brilliantly atmospheric and spiritually uplifting album in 'Into the Morn...' just shows the dedication and force of spirit in these pilgrims, these incredible musicians, and their love of the Celtic forms through which they bring us all a little closer to the throne of the Divine. Words are simply not enough to tell you how this all made me feel however - Go buy it, set yourself up a good glass of Islay malt and listen to this uninterrupted by the kids, the dogs, work, household chores etc on a really good system or cans and it will be revealed to you too...that while you lived a group made that perfect album that encompasses all your questions and feelings about the meaning of life and love, fear and faith, everything you've ever felt about the journey of life and what lies beyond plus everything you've ever loved about excellent musicianship...and keeps saying it every time you hear it. Truly divine.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iona, 30 Sep 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
Although not purely a concept album like 'Book of Kells', the album has several themes upon which much of the material is based. The title track is based around words from Psalm 139, was written at a time when the band were searching for the way forward after the departure of founder member David Fitzgerald.
Dave purchased a book called 'Celtic Fire', a book which amongst other things contains the story of St. Brendan and the voyage he reputedly made across the Atlantic ocean in the 6th century with 14 monks in a coracle.
Dave Bainbridge and the other members of the band soon became fascinated by this epic story of faith and obedience to God and how it seemed to tie in with the band's thinking at that time. The amazing thing was that Joanne's song "Beyond these Shores" (which had been written three months previously and already been chosen as the next album's title) seemed to fit Brendan's story exactly. It could have almost been part of Brendan's "Prayer on the Mountain" (also found in the 'Celtic Fire' book). Some line from this beautiful prose were later adapted by Jo and used in the lyrics for the song "Edge of the World".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 14 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
Nice mixture of instrumental and original songs by Iona. Their music really grows on you if you know what I mean. Highly
recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly enduring music, 15 Sep 2013
By 
Non53 "Nonny" (Greater London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond These Shores (MP3 Download)
I have always loved Iona and this CD continues the excellent quality of their music in which it is possible to get completely 'lost'. It's wonderful to be able to have it with me whenever I choose to listen on my new Kind Fire HHD. It was so easy to purchase and save onto the Kindle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotive, 30 July 2013
By 
Dr. Keith A. Moseley (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
I switched to this album after playing a lot of Marillion stuff in the car. At first, I thought 'OK, Clannad clones; not original' but with each playing, the album grew on me and I realised how beautiful and inspiring the tracks were. Iona are astonishingly talented, producing melodic music with real depth. Youtube has numerous clips to illustrate how magnificent they are on stage.

This album has a more even feel than some of their others, with the right balance between instrumental and vocal tracks. Joanne Hogg has the voice of an angel, set against a sophisticated celtic/prog musical tapestry.

Iona's music has a religious tone but don't let that put you off. I am a rational scientist but still soak up the spirituality without any discomfort. Frankly, Christianity has never sounded so good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, magical sounds!, 6 April 2013
This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
i love a lot of celtic and celtic crossover bands,capercaillie, clannad, mermaid kiss, karnataka and iona amongst them.
all these bands are good in their own way, but too me iona are the most magical and atmospheric.
you have the amazing voice of joanne hogg, haunting and beautiful yet able to belt out the more rocky songs.
there's the wonderful sweeping atmospheric synths, the excellent percussion and lovely celtic pipes and whistles.
as well as all this there's the amazing sound of dave bainbridge on his guitar, a beautiful soaring sound that's both
emotional and magical. it's dave's guitar sound that gives this band a bit of a prog rock feel.
of course some people are less musical than others and may not like the very long passages without vocals so much.
but that seems to be more so on the other albums, which is why i would recommend anyone to start with this album.
beyond these shores is a beautiful, magical album which will tug at your heart strings time and time again.
if you love music with a celtic flavour such as the other bands i have mentioned, then buy this album!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous band - great CD, 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
I bought this as a gift for a friend whose daughter is named Iona. She took it back to Canada and it has gone down a storm amongst her friends, they just love Iona's beautiful, haunting music. I'll certainly be buying further copies for gifts - and one for myself also. This CD is highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars iona - beyond these shores, 14 Sep 2010
By 
Anna Crook (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond These Shores (Audio CD)
I have loved the sound this band made ever since I saw them in the 1990's in Lancaster. An incredible group they have gone on to record several more albums, but for me this is their best album. A real mix of vocal and instrumental tracks, moving lyrics and Iona's voice is second to none. In the vein of Clannad and Enya but in my opinion, superior. If you get a chance to see them live... go!
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