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An Ancient Muse [Enhanced]

Loreena Mckennitt Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 14.90 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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An Ancient Muse + The Wind That Shakes The Barley + A Midwinter Night's Dream
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Product Details

1. Incantation (2:35)
2. The Gates Of Istanbul (6:59)
3. Caravanserai (7:36)
4. The English Ladye And The Knight (7:36)
5. Kecharitomene (6:34)
6. Penelopes Song (4:21)
7. Sacred Shabbat (3:59)
8. Beneath A Phrygian Sky (9:32)
9. Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit) (6:00)

Product Description

Product Description

Once heard, never forgotten. From the Scottish borders to the caravanserais of the Silk Road and the wine-dark seas of Homers Odyssey: music that crosses borders and centuries. Join the journey with An Ancient Muse, the new studio album from Canadas internationally acclaimed eclectic Celtic singer/composer, Loreena McKennitt.


It's been nearly a decade since Loreena McKennitt's last studio album, The Book of Secrets, but An Ancient Muse picks up the caravan exactly where she left off on her mystical journey through the cultures of the Middle East and northern Sahara. The Canadian singer opens this album the same way as she did her last two recordings: with an incantation, calling out in a wordless voice across an echoing space, cleansing the air and the mind. What follows is a lot like those albums as well, a pan-global excursion centered on Middle Eastern themes and instruments cast into a dramatic exotica. Oud, dumbek, kanoun, hurdy-gurdy, duduk, nyckleharpe (a Swedish-keyed fiddle), and other ancient sounds from the region and beyond ornament her music, though "ornament" might no longer be accurate. With the exception of Hugh Marsh's gypsy violin solos and a handful of other players, it's the Western instruments that serve as ornaments on An Ancient Muse. McKennitt long ago evolved the Celtic sound that launched her career. She's virtually abandoned the harp, which hasn't appeared on her CDs since 1991's The Visit. The lone uillean pipe on "Beneath a Phrygian Sky" sounds like an echo calling from the McKennitt's past. Nevertheless, the Celtic ballad form remains central to her music, and she still draws inspiration from ye olde writers of the British Isles. Lyrics from Sir Walter Scott adorn "The English Ladye and the Knight," recalling "The Lady of Shalott." But despite McKennitt's soaring alto, the tale drags under the dirge-like meter and ponderous arrangement. The epic track of this album is the aforementioned "Beneath a Phrygian Sky," with distorted electric guitar accents and an acoustic guitar melody carrying McKennitt on another journey into her romanticized version of the ancient world. --John Diliberto

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McKennitt's best effort yet! Nov. 20 2006
By Curio
Format:Audio CD
After nearly 10 years since her last release, The Book of Secrets, I'm glad to say that this Canadian songstress still has it--and in spades!

Infused with the very soul of mysticism, the music is a journey to times long past but certainly not forgotten, thanks in part to McKennitt's rich, celebratory blend of cultures in each tune. Gone (I believe) is the harp, but yet, there is still an unmistakeable Celtic essence, the basis of her work.

Opening in much the same way that The Mask and Mirror and The Book of Secrets did--with evocative, wordless intonations that really set the mood, it moves on to the exotic and alluring "Gates of Istanbul"--here is a slow but infectious rhythm that lingers long after the last note.

"Caravanserai" is beautiful, soaring into a more subdued but sensitive treatment of the poem "The English Ladye and the Knight," before launching back into high gear into my personal favourite--"Kecharitomene," an adventurous, passionate song that swells blissfully, layer upon rich layer in a lovely aural landscape.

"Penelope's Song" sets us back on earth before the up-tempo "Sacred Shabbat," an excellent instrumental arrangement, but to me, sounding curiously contained or flat where other tracks possess great depth and clarity. "Beaneath a Phyrigian Sky" makes up for this small hiccup, a song I think of as the siblng of her wonderful "Bonny Portmore."

Concluding this sublime release is "Never-ending Road" (may it be indicative of her career, and further albums!), an emotive, haunting end comparable to what "Dante's Prayer" or "Prospero's Speech" did for Secrets and Mask, respectively.

This is a CD that radiates inspiration, care, and sensitivity, a culmination of Loreena McKennitt's skill and talent as a musician in what is likely her best release yet!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahh... I'd Forgotten... Sept. 21 2007
Format:Audio CD
I'd been looking and hoping for a new Loreena McKennitt CD for years. I'd given up hope. Stopped looking...

Then -- there in The Lyric (the Baltimore opera house) -- Loreena McKennitt on tour! First I bought the tickets. Then I bought AN ANCIENT MUSE.

Having moved on from my "new age" phase of some years back my head's been in different musical spaces: serious/wondrous jazz, guitar virtuosos, classical music... So when MUSE arrived... I was in the wrong "gear"...

But with a concert fast approaching I had to find the set list, compile my own iTunes version of the concert, "get ready." And what a world Loreena McKennitt weaves! Ahh... I'd forgotten...

MUSE has been on repeat all afternoon as I worked and thought about what to say. (Ahh... I'd forgotten...)

Once you're in the right musical head space -- world music not jazz, poems set to music not motif development upon development, etc. -- Loreena McKennitt stirs the heart like few others. For me it's her voice, the courage to set long poems to music, the richness of the instrumental sounds... and did I mention her voice?

Having devoured her earlier CDs -- I've got them all! -- I feel confident when I say AN ANCIENT MUSE is right up there with the best of them!

Enjoy... and feast your ears!

Dr. Kirtland C Peterson
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the book of secrets - part II June 14 2010
Format:Audio CD
Years ago I fell in love with the "the book of secrets" and "An Ancient Muse" begins where "the book of secrets" left off. Rediscovering those themes of Middle Eastern Origins, from North Africa to Afganistan. "An Ancient Muse" may not be quite as good as "the book of secrets", however it is a close 2nd. Loreena McKennitt delivers a perfect album with haunting themes that will transform you. You will not be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Once again! Nov. 28 2006
Format:Audio CD
Once again, Miss McKennitt has capture the true essence of ancient music for today's standards. She is one of those artists who is able to keep her sense of style in every album without being too repetitive. Her lovely incantations as an opening to her albums is appreciated and prepares the listener for a mysterious and mystical journey.

I have been a fan of Loreena's music ever since i was 13 years old. Bought her albums with enthusiasm and impatience. And once again, she has not failed! For all fans alike or if you are curious to give this Canadian artist a try, i can tell you that you shall not be disappointed. If you just want to relax during a bubble bath, or have soft music while reading a book, or just have it in the background during a dinner party, this is an album you will surely not regret buying!

Congradulations Loreena! Keep up the good work!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Words cannot describe Loreena Mckennitt's music Nov. 19 2006
Format:Audio CD
Even though I do not have the cd at the time of this writing, I have been waiting for some new music from Loreena Mckennitt for 8 years. I have heard only one song from an ancient muse and I already know this album is going to be huge.. Her development as an international artist is solidified with each piece she creates. An ancient muse will remove interst in anything else out there for a while to come. If you have never seen her live. I recommend you do yourself a favour and go. Her performance outdoes most any other act out there. Mysticism is intact with every note. I not only recommend this cd, I also recommend anything she has ever made or will ever make.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too gloomy for me Dec 15 2006
Format:Audio CD
Have to agree with the Amazon reviewer - I have nearly all her albums and although it holds some of the mystery and exoticism of her previous album - this one is indeed dirge-like and that has put me off a bit. Not one I'm going to be playing much. I'd like to hear it in a live concert to see if that might change my mind. I must admit I miss the harp, but I know artists must move on.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great as usual.
Published 22 days ago by EHS
3.0 out of 5 stars McKennitt Making Money
Lorena McKennitt is a very goods musical artist. Sometimes I find her work can be drawn out and the tunes seen to blend into one another. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of the muse
After the death of her fiance, Loreena McKennitt went into retirement for several years. But when she returned, she came back in a big way -- "An Ancient Muse," a haunting little... Read more
Published on April 30 2011 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars An Ancient Muse
As ardent fans of Loreena McKennitt, we are pleased to add this album to our collection. Thank You!
Published on March 30 2009 by Dale Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars Another relaxing and surreal moment with Loreena McKennitt
I have been waiting for another CD from Loreena McKennitt. And it was well worth the wait.

This CD is just as beautiful and wonderful as all the rest of her CD's have... Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2007 by Lynne Grey
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Safe and Familiar
My first impression of this album was that it was pleasant enough, though too predictable, and that nothing stood out or beckoned me back. Read more
Published on May 27 2007 by pseudonymous
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best.
I was a little disappointed with this CD. Such a long wait for songs that sound so much like previous recordings in The Books Of Secrets and The Mask And Mirror. Read more
Published on Dec 20 2006 by Melody
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