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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "All for the love of you..."
This is my favorite Loreena Mckennitt album. Although, if pressed, I'm not sure I can provide a convincing explanation of my reasons. Possibly it is because the singer, who already had a loyal and following as a singer in the British folk traditions, shows a surprising flair for experiencing other musical styles and deftly making them her own. Spanish, North African,...
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by Marc Ruby™

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3.0 out of 5 stars A bust by anyone else, it's a McKennitt minor triumph.
Like another of Loreena's offerings, "The Book of Secrets", "The Mask and the Mirror" has too many tracks that, to my untrained ears, are not Celtic in flavor (which is supposedly this artist's forte). Neither, in my opinion, is equal to her best CD, "The Visit".
A couple of the selections on "Mask" are just plain monotonous. However, there are three others, sung...
Published on June 14 2000 by Joseph Haschka


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "All for the love of you...", Sept. 9 2003
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
This is my favorite Loreena Mckennitt album. Although, if pressed, I'm not sure I can provide a convincing explanation of my reasons. Possibly it is because the singer, who already had a loyal and following as a singer in the British folk traditions, shows a surprising flair for experiencing other musical styles and deftly making them her own. Spanish, North African, Islamic, and Judaic come to her and are transformed into even larger concepts and then made into intimate friends.
Another factor may be the great intelligence of her choices. McKennitt's own lyrics on this album demonstrate a more than passing familiarity with the Gnostic and mystical and a very clear vision of how to express these ideas in melodic terms. She also is noted for adapting lyrics from various poetic sources, drawing from a delightful spectrum of Writers. In this case, St. John of the Cross, Yeats, and Shakespeare. Each time, she captures something in the doing that most of us might miss in the reading.
Finally, of course, there is the musicality of her work. Whether they be rhythmic, pensive, or tender, the melodies and settings distinguish Mckennitt from the crowd. Her work is never simple or gimmicky. This, and a compelling, beautiful voice make The Mask and the Mirror a treat for these tired ears. Whether the album becomes your favorite as well is moot. No one would argue that it is one of her best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LM's Best Work, March 26 2003
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
The Visit, the album that proceeded this one, gave us a small glimpse of where Loreena McKennitt was about to take her music, and on The Mask and Mirror, those glimpses blossom into a fully realized collection of tunes that can truly be called 'world music'.
LM had begun to experiment with elements of dark and light within the musical canvases she had created on The Visit, but those experiments are more potent here, as are her combinations of various styles and cultures. Tunes such as The Mystic's Dream and Marrakesh Night Market effectively create a Middle Eastern/Meditteranean atmosphere with a slightly more haunting approach. The musical backing is stronger here than on previous albums as well, giving the album an even wider lens through which to view LM's visions of vocal and lyrical sojourneying.
Her ballads are as always, sweet and tender, rich and compelling, such as on Ce He Mise Le Ulaingt?/The Two Trees (which opens with her trademark Celtic influences well displayed by the pipes), or on the album closer, Prospero's Speech, where LM once again takes a traditional writing (this time from Shakespeare) and sets it to music.
As with her harp and keyboard work, LM's voice stands out as one of the best around in any genre. Her phrasing is meticulous, her tone clear and emotive. And her songwriting is informed with a sense of melody that proves easily digestable to Western ears.
On a sidenote, some may find her diary-esque liner notes somewhat pretentious, but it is still a nice read. However, its the music that we all want and love, and here LM gives us the best she has to offer. A must have.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The search continues..., Feb. 1 2003
By 
C. Middleton (Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
McKennitt's search continues through the major religions of the world: Judaism, Islam and Christianity, drawing on their distinct and surprisingly similar views of the soul. In ~The Mask and Mirror~ she begins her journey of discovery through the window of 15th century Spain, and immediately, listening to the first song, 'The Mystics Dream', we are transported to the world and holy sounds of Christian monks, chanting their eerie notes of prayer - what came to mind on the first listen through, was the notion of Infinty and the utter vastness of the soul...similar to most of the artist's several recordings, the music is a kind of medium of transport, a nebulous conduit, giving us the opportunity to see and feel these other worlds.
In her diary entry of March 23, 1982, the time of Ramadan, she writes, "...hear men chanting in the mosque, one of the most moving and primitive sounds I have ever heard. They are calling their God. I think, when have I heard this before?" McKennitt asks us to join her on her search, describing the exotic places she has visited and the music that was inspired as a result. This artist pays close attention to the outer world, seeking-out their mysteries, reflects on these sights to then translate the images and feelings into the sounds of poetry and music. And the final product of these particular journeys and reflections is ~The Mask and Mirror~.
McKennitt's entire body of work is a reflection through her music of her search for the Divine. Her music is incredibly moving...all her music to my mind is special, but this CD stands out as one of the best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McKennitt's Finest, April 4 2002
By 
Patty Philbrook (Stratham, NH United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
While her other recordings are fine pieces of work, I consider The Mask and Mirror Loreena McKennitt's best. The music entrances you whether enjoying it during mealtime, reading, or just relaxing in front of a fire sipping a glass of wine. I first heard this in a book store on a rainy afternoon while browsing and left that day with the first of many of her CDs that I would eventually own. The Mask and Mirror is "chocolate" for your ears and senses. Don't look to this CD for simply Celitc tunes. This is so very much more. It is a journey of sometimes haunting and moving melodies with chanting and rhythms (close your eyes and picture the nighttime lights of Marrakesh), and deeply moving love ballads perfect for a romantic dance embrance, or as I did for the first dance with my husband at our wedding a few years ago.
You will hear influences of Spain, Morocco and Ireland to name a few. These songs are beautifully blended and mixed as to appear seamless as one transitions into the next. A perfect example of this is Full Circle (#5) with its slow and flowing soulful harmony and next into Santiago (#6) with a distinct Spanish beat as it picks up the pace. Then again into Ce He Mise Le Ulaingt? and The Two Trees (#7) with a regal Celtic intro and then unfolding into sweet cello and stings and the increible voice of Loreena McKennitt singing lyrics taken from writings by poet William Butler Yeats.
This is one my all time top 5 CDs. I recommend it highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loreena McKennitt�s Definitive Work, March 26 2002
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
Many people were first knowingly exposed to Loreena McKennitt through the commercial success of The Book of Secrets. While The Book of Secrets is a great recording, it pales in comparison to McKennitt's earlier work: The Mask and Mirror.
The Mask and Mirror contains many of the hallmarks that make up the McKennitt "sound." The most important of these hallmarks is the superb musicianship of the accompanying band. Their efforts flesh out and provide a depth to the songs. Just try to imagine "The Dark Night of the Soul" without Brian Hughes' delicate electric sitar theme weaving its way through the song, or "Santiago" without Rick Lazar's powerful percussion. It is impossible to do.
Yet, these musicians do not overpower the songs with their efforts. The fact that they don't is a testament to another McKennitt trademark: solid production. The production choices on every track are perfect. Each choice not only enhances the sound, but also conveys to the listener the song's power. It is the recording's last track that best exemplifies this outstanding production. "Prospero's Speech" gives the listener an image of solitude and isolation, because it is simply McKinnett on vocals with a light synthesizer accompaniment. This image is perfectly in step with the lyrics, which are taken from the Tempest's end when the actor playing Prospero stands alone on the stage and delivers those lines to the audience. This same kind of sensitive, sophisticated production is evident in all the recording's tracks.
The last characteristic that The Mask and Mirror shares with other McKinnett recordings is Loreena's songwriting and vocals. Yet, it is in this area that this recording breaks from all her earlier works. McKennitt more fully utilizes a "Middle Eastern" sound (with which she had dabbled previously) to her compositions. The result of this addition is an energy that wasn't always present in the earlier recordings. This energy seems to infect McKennitt in other ways as well. Her vocals, always beautiful to hear, seem more energetic and alive on this recording. Also, the lyrics on her original songs are enhanced by the energy provided through this new wrinkle in her sound. The result is a recording that is seamless from a songwriting point of view.
It is rare to find a recording which represents such a dramatic, yet natural, evolution in an artist's body of work. Such is the case with The Mask and Mirror. There are echoes of McKennitt's past work in this recording. Yet, the growth in her songwriting, the strong production, and the solid musicianship make this album a quantum leap over her previous efforts, and superior to anything she has recorded since. People who have only heard The Book of Secrets are doing themselves a disservice by not buying The Mask and Mirror. Not only are they missing out on a great recording, they are also missing out on the defining work in a talented artist's career.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another good Loreena album, Nov. 20 2001
By 
Kelly (Fantasy Literature) (Columbia, MO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
Loreena McKennitt experiments with a variety of styles here, and the result is always beautiful.
The strongest tracks, IMHO, are the first three. "The Mystic's Dream" and "Dark Night of the Soul" are two absolutely soaring love songs, both of which could be either about earthly romance or about religion, or maybe both. Sandwiched between them is "The Bonny Swans", a lilting rendition of the traditional ballad "The Twa Sisters" or "The Cruel Sister". I wouldn't have thought it possible, but somehow McKennitt takes this very dark tale and creates a song that feels uplifting. And somehow it works. (I also recommend Ceoltoiri, who perform a darker, more haunting version of "The Cruel Sister" on their album "Women of Ireland". Same ballad, two very different adaptations.)
Then comes "Marrakesh Night Market", which richly evokes a Middle eastern bazaar, and has a hypnotic rhythm. It does feel a little repetitive after a few minutes, though, at least to me. How I could find "Marrakesh" repetitive, and yet wish "The Bonny Swans" had a dozen more verses, is beyond me. It's just my opinion, though. Take it with a whole shaker of salt.
After "Marrakesh", the album begins to drift into background music. Even as McKennitt quotes Yeats and Shakespeare, the classic words dissolve into the sweet and ambient melodies. The voice acts more as another instrument than it does as a carrier of lyrics.
My advice: Listen raptly to the first three songs. Dance to "Marrakesh". Meditate to the rest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Mystique, Oct. 21 2001
By 
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
If nothing else, buy this solely for The Mystic's Dream. The Murmurs Dance has been her most successful song yet (it even broke mainstream), but this is by far my favorite song by her. It's just so mythical and haunting. Even after three years I can still listen to it and get a musical high. I especially like how the Victoria Scholars choir sings Gregorian style. The song throughout is darkly shrouded and mysterious, but with downtempo dance percussion. And as everyone else seems to think, The Bonny Swans is an incredible song. As in her own words... I am drawn to the harp motif and the essence of a fable in which a girl, drowned by her jealous sister, returns first as a swan and then is transformed into a harp... I personally think that the live version of this song is better - as it's much more lively - but either ways it's enjoyable nonetheless. Oh... and I absolutely relish when the guitar comes in. It's a pity that its part is so short...
The Dark Night Of The Soul is a carefully weaved love song with beautifully drawn lyrics...
Upon that misty night
In secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
Than that which burned so deeply in my heart - is the third track. Then comes the Middle Eastern Marrakesh Night Market with its dance driven drum beats and resounding fiddle playing. And another of my favorites by Loreena McKennitt, Full Circle, comes on next with its slow, religious feel... Santiago - much like the track prior to the one before - is also an uplifting piece of music with drums, cello, synthesizer, fiddle, bass, bouzouki, and countless other instruments (I also like the live version of this better)... The Two Trees is really the only Irish influenced/Celtic song on here with its introduction of Uilleann pipes. The rest is mainly piano and cello... And lastly the short but wonderous Prospero's Speech (derived from The Tempest) ends this astonishing CD with Shakespeare. The Mask and Mirror is all very poetic but this will leave you shaken to the core.
I strongly encourage you to buy this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Voice Behind The Mask, Aug. 28 2001
By 
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
In The Mask And Mirror Loreena Mckennitt moves away from the Celtic sound of earlier albums and has recorded songs with Middle Eastern and medievel themes.She took inspiration from 15th century Spain,sufisum and other lesser known Celtic sources.It's a beautifully produced album with each song having a unique theme.The Bonny Swans based on a poem is about a girl who is drowned by her jealous sister returns as a swan then a harp. The only thing I didn't like about this song was the guitars,which stand out in the music almost ruinning the authentic feel.The Mystic's Dream,Marrakesh Night Market and Full Circle were inspired by her visits to the Middle East.The Dark Night Of The Soul from a 15th century poem is a moving beautifully sung piece.The one truly Celtic song The Two Trees starts with uilleann pipes then goes into a Yeats poem ,but it's not as distinctive as the other poems on the album.My favorite song is the captivating instrumental Santiago.The Mask And Mirror is another brilliant album from a terrific artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exotic and beautiful., Aug. 5 2001
By 
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
The Mask and Mirror is perhaps Loreena McKennitt's most exotic collection of songs. The arrangements enclose a gamut of conventional Celtic instruments as well as Middle Eastern, Indian, and ancient flavors of the Mediterranean Sea. Although the Celtic element is definitely reduced here, it is in many ways the most instrumentally interesting of all her albums. Plus, her voice is stunning. Her technique is astonishing, and the actual sound of her voice is heavenly.
As soon as you press Play and hear the hypnotizing notes opening "The Mystic's Dream," your world melts away to be replaced by the images summoned forth by McKennitt's lush, evocative music. Her own gorgeous, superhuman voice opens, singing wordless notes that are bound to give you chills. Drawing closer to the song's first verse, a ghostly male choir layers McKennitt's voice producing a spellbinding harmony effect. The production is just stunning, and you can see it this early in the album...all mystical echoes and visceral instruments and clarity. McKennitt's voice is yearning and haunting, but beautiful all the same. "The Bonny Swans" is a traditional lyric turned into a peppy tune with cool call-and-response between the electric guitar and fiddle. This song...well, it boogies! Often, McKennitt's music is emotionally heavy and somber, so it's nice that this song is surprisingly fun.
"The Two Trees," preceded by a lovely pipe intro (which is unfortunately short), is affixed to gorgeous, flowing piano chords that glide upon a layer of solemn strings. McKennitt set Yeats' poem to music with remarkable grace and acuity for the nature of the words, here...it's absolutely wonderful. Her vocal melodies are magical the way they heighten the power of the poetry in some ineffable manner. And even though the song is more than nine minutes, I really wish it'd last longer, because it's so beautiful.
The ethnic touches abound on "Marrakesh Night Market," where the instruments and lyrics paint a picture so vivid it's impossible not to see the marketplace. The dashing, lyricless but not vocal-less "Santiago" at once raises a smile with its sprightly folk-dance drive; but the ethnic touches cause one to marvel at McKennitt's ingenuity as a composer. There's some wonderful, spirited fiddle solos on this song. "The Dark Night of the Soul," despite the ominous title, is a romantic song that, as McKennitt explains is the excellent CD booklet (which features bits of journal entries), it's actually a metaphorical song about a man's love for his god. The chorus is very beautiful. "Prospero's Speech" is too short...kind of a missed opportunity, but it's good while it lasts.
This review was kind of random in terms of my train of thought and its structure, but I hope I've told you what you want to know (i.e. whether or not this is good stuff). Or just take my word for it when I say the album possesses an exquisite beauty that needs to be heard to be appreciated. Forget reading my fruitless attempts to convey the wondrous quality of these songs...just listen for yourself. I'm sure you'll be impressed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "All for the love of you . . .", May 12 2004
By 
"pale_eye" (MO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mask and Mirror (Audio CD)
Indeed. Or rather, quite. Or shall I say... well you get it. The point is that this is Loreena McKennitt at her most -- how shall we say this? -- mystical? Eerie doesn't quite work... Dream-like perhaps? Well suffice it to say that Elemental was thoroughly folk, The Book of Secrets was a neutral new age work of art, and this, this is in a realm all its own.
One can see this easily when one hears the chanting that opens "The Mystic's Dream." Loreena McKennitt in my opinion is better than Enya, and this because there are more layers to her music. Enya has a lovely voice and makes lovely music, mind you, but Loreena McKennitt captures the feel and essence of her subject whether this be a mystic or a lover, Prospero or what have you.
If I didn't know better I might venture to say that "The Mask and Mirror" is slightly darker than McKennitt's other work. Why do I say this? I haven't the foggiest. Perhaps because the elements presented are more or less beneath the surface. This is difficult to explain right here on an Amazon review but I would strongly suggest that you purchase this CD and just see for yourself what I mean.
All things said and done. Buy it. Enjoy it. Thank yourself profusely.
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