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!