An Ancient Muse Enhanced
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Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|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)|
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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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
In a way, the album feels like it follows a day all across Europe and the Middle East. It begins with "Incantation," a slow sunrise of a song filled with murmuring vocals and dark sweeps of strings, before segueing into the lazy half-lit twangs and angles of "The Gates of Istanbul" and the peppy sand-swept ballad of "Caravanserai."
Then McKennitt moves into colder climates with the wistful, string-soaked ballad "The English Ladye and The Knight" (all about a lady in love with a Scottish knight -- cue tragedy), the swirling "Kecharitomene" and the painfully lovely "Penelope's Song." With the final leg of the album, she drifts into the twangy Eastern European flavors of "Sacred Shabbat," the lush twilight tones of "Beneath a Phrygian Sky," and finishing with the soft lulling beauty of "Never-Ending Road (Amhrán Duit)."
"An Ancient Muse" is only nine songs long, but it's one of those albums that feels like a full meal once you've finished it. There are a couple songs that aren't quite brilliant all the time ("Sacred Shabbat" just didn't grab me), but overall McKennit picks up where she left off in the late nineties -- lush multi-instrumental music laced with angelic vocals, flavored with the mystical.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on April 14 2013 by Steve
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
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
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 morePublished on May 27 2007 by pseudonymous
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 morePublished on Dec 20 2006 by Melody
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... Read morePublished on Dec 15 2006 by CelticMaiden
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