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on November 20, 2006
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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on September 21, 2007
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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on June 14, 2010
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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on November 28, 2006
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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on November 19, 2006
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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on December 15, 2006
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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on December 20, 2006
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. I was hoping for newer sounds. Loreena is an outstanding artist nonetheless. It won't stop me from buying her next CD whenever that may be.
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on April 14, 2013
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. This album seemed dreary to me gave me a pensive mood. Not one of my favourite albums from her!
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on November 4, 2007
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 been. She creates moments of bliss and wonderment.

Thanks, Loreena, for another wonderful CD.
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on May 27, 2007
My first impression of this album was that it was pleasant enough, though too predictable, and that nothing stood out or beckoned me back. With further listens I sometimes forget that I am listening to the much anticipated new album, easily mistaking tracks for others from Loreena's back catalogue, or simply observing the at times astonishing similarities to certain other works of hers as they drift languidly by. This feeling still pervades and leads me to thinking that Loreena is playing safe on this release, looking backwards for inspiration within her previous work rather than forwards towards growth and experimentation. That familiarity, of course, is bound to appeal to many, and there is no questioning the slickness and sweetness of this album. I however find this disappointing. To me The Book Of Secrets was a genuine and exciting development upon it's predecessor and I was hoping to see more advances here.

Incidentally, the melody in the instrumental "Sacred Shabbat" bears a striking resemblance to "Ra Ra Rasputin"...(!)

The big budget slickness, flawless (and perhaps stifling) production, the careful timing of release to co-incide with Christmas (when Loreena typically recieves the most airplay), coupled with the sense that we are being treated to tried and tested formulas rather than genuine musical exploration, bring out the cynic in me I'm afraid, and the album itself isn't strong enough to overcome that feeling.
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