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19 Reviews
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumphant Return to Roots.
I recently heard Loreena McKennitt for the first time on Radio 2 singing `The Star of the County Down'. I was blown away by the beauty of her voice. The last time a singer had that effect on me was when I first heard the sadly little known Martin Sexton singing `Black Sheep'. I went straight onto Amazon and brought this album. Canadian born McKennitt has a wonderful...
Published on 13 Jan 2011 by Bob Salter

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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Marking Time !
Sorry to say I don't follow the hype around this present release and find it quite disappointing. I am looking at it in the context of her last number of releases - a Best of and concert double CD (with too much replication) a Christmas album (not usually a sign of great creativity) a concert DVD of old material (which is wonderful) and this collection which is basically...
Published on 26 Jan 2011 by Fergal Woods


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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Marking Time !, 26 Jan 2011
By 
Fergal Woods "Axe Victim" (Leitrim, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Audio CD)
Sorry to say I don't follow the hype around this present release and find it quite disappointing. I am looking at it in the context of her last number of releases - a Best of and concert double CD (with too much replication) a Christmas album (not usually a sign of great creativity) a concert DVD of old material (which is wonderful) and this collection which is basically a set of Irish folk songs. So I see this not as a triumphant return to her "roots" but rather as a worrying sign that she has lost her creative muse.

Lovers of Irish folk will already own superior versions of practically all of these songs. Other than "The Parting Glass" there is little thought or imagination evident in these arrangements. In this tune Loreena does modify her sound and this is welcome as too many of her songs are now "samey". Uileann pipes are prominent and her voice has lost none of it's quality but I would far rather her to come up with original material and with a soundscape that is evolving. Perhaps collaboration with Irish songwriters or musicians might lead to a more productive process that would still satisfy Loreena's attachment to things Celtic but this release does not suggest future glories to match her earlier classics (all of which I own, by the way)

I wish I could write to the contrary but, in my view, this is not an essential purchase.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumphant Return to Roots., 13 Jan 2011
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Audio CD)
I recently heard Loreena McKennitt for the first time on Radio 2 singing `The Star of the County Down'. I was blown away by the beauty of her voice. The last time a singer had that effect on me was when I first heard the sadly little known Martin Sexton singing `Black Sheep'. I went straight onto Amazon and brought this album. Canadian born McKennitt has a wonderful haunting quality to her voice, that you often find in people that have had to face the stormy vicissitudes of life. In 1998 her fiancé was killed in a boating accident, which must have had a devastating effect on her. But like Damascus steel forged in the furnace, her voice achieves that elusive soulful quality. It is clear from her singing that she has a natural affinity with Celtic music, and has gone back to her roots with this CD.

The CD sleeve says I quote "Every once in a while, there is a pull to return to one's own roots or beginnings, with the perspective of time and experience, to feel the familiar things you once loved and love still", which is a nice way of putting it. All the words are traditional except "Down by the Sally Gardens". The title is taken from a well known Irish ballad that was also used for the Ken Loach film. Loreena has indeed returned triumphantly to the roots she loves. My only regret is that there are two lovely instrumental pieces where I did not get the opportunity to listen to more of that beautiful voice. Some might say aren't seven out of nine enough? My reply would be "Not for me I'm a pig".
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing lack of originality, 3 Nov 2011
By 
nieges d'autan "villon" (Oxford UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Audio CD)
I am a great fan of Loreena,(I have all her previous albums) and I listened to this latest with great anticipation. But what a disappointment! The appeal of this artist is not just in her performance and musicality, but in the originality of her writing, her eclectitism and exploration. This collection is frankly banal in comparison with'Muse' or 'Secrets': she may be 'returning to her roots' but I found the earlier versions of several of these songs far stronger and more complex, while the 'new' additions to the repertoire are unmemorable to say the least.
We played this CD once. Then we gave it to the charity shop
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wind That Shakes the Barley, 5 April 2011
This review is from: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Audio CD)
This is a CD for anyone who likes Irish or Celtic folk music. Although I had never heard of this artist Loreena McKennitt so I was buying 'blind' I was delighted with this product and as my wife who was listening with 'half an ear' remarked "some of the tracks are really haunting". A first class buy. Some of the tracks were new to me but were most enjoyable, I particularly liked her redition of 'Down by the Sally Gardens' and 'The Star of the County Down'

RF
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 11 July 2014
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This review is from: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Audio CD)
COOL
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4.0 out of 5 stars another great album from loreena, 1 May 2014
By 
graham (leicester UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Audio CD)
not-in-my-opinion as up to standard as the visit & the mask in the mirror - yet still an essential album in 1's collection
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4.0 out of 5 stars Songs and Singing, 13 April 2014
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Some very beautiful, historically important and significant songs. Musical arrangements well-balanced and pleasing to the ear. The interpretation of 'Down by The Salley Gardens' was extremely poor: the phrasing just awful. This is a poem, the words were broken': 'snow-white became two words with a pause for a breath in between. There were other similar 'moments' all of which combined to produce a performance which utterly destroyed the beauty and meaning of this song. It really is a great pity given that the singer has the quality of voice and the sensitivity to be so much better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A sublime combination of voice with instruments., 31 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Audio CD)
What a terrific album.I first heard Loreena McKennitt on the radio and was so impressed that I immediately got onto "the net" and ordered the album.I was not disappointed and enjoyed every track.I would recommend this album to anyone who likes to "listen" to a beautiful voice accompanied by sympathetic musicians.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form, 17 Jan 2011
By 
Pompompom (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Now I realize the title of this review is going to be controversial, as most people seem to love Loreena's recent output. But I bought Mask and Mirror when it was released, so that's about 17 years ago, and since then, I find that Loreena's been repeating herself, using the same old recipe, over-produced celtic-pop-new-agey music. What was new, what I loved and still love in Mask and Mirror, had just become very pedestrian to me. Mask and Mirror is a stunning album, one I still listen to regularly. I just never wanted to listen to Mask and Mirror 2, 3, 4... which all her subsequent albums have been.

Which brings us back to The Wind... Is there anything new here? Nope. But Loreena's shaken off all the overheard, formulaic (her own formula, to be fair, but still a formula to me) arrangements that burdened the music in her previous albums. She seems to suddenly have become herself again: a sensitive, delicate artist. The music is simple, heartfelt, pure. It doesn't feel like "stadium Loreena" anymore.

I really enjoy this album. I'm a old fan, and like old fans I tend to be tough and demanding, but this one is the real deal.

Is it perfect? No, it could be more adventurous. But who cares. Maybe that'll be her next album!

Welcome back Loreena!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle but truly beautiful, 15 Mar 2012
By 
J. P. Botting "Joe" (Nanjing, China (for a while)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Audio CD)
I have virtually all of Loreena's work, and she has been for many years my favourite performer (and seen live, perhaps even better). This album seems to have disappointed quite a lot of people here, with comments such as being uninspired, dreary or showing a lack of imagination. Those who really enjoyed it seem to have been the ones who found that her recent albums have been getting repetetive. I don't normally write reviews, but I see things a bit differently here.

There's no doubt that this recording is less immediately original than her middle-eastern style music - but that's the point of a traditional album. It's trying to achieve something else instead. If you compare it with work by a lot of other modern folk singers, they may have beautiful voices, but there is nowhere near the emotional power that Loreena brings. She doesn't quite have the same purity of voice, perhaps, but every word has particular intonation; you can really feel the despair in 'the Death of Queen Jane', the bittersweet farewell in 'The Parting Glass' and the plucky courage leading to resigned foolishness in 'The Star of County Down'. What this album gives us is a new way of looking at these old songs - Loreena manages to convey the meaning behind them, as fresh as if we there at the writing, when so many other singers just aim for beautiful music. I think this is where Loreena really is different to most singers today: her aim is put across the power of the story, not just to create things that are beautiful to listen to.

I think there's a clue to why she produced this now in the intonation of some of the songs. Many of them change their character towards the end, finishing in regret and acceptance of past foolishness. This is maybe most powerful in 'the Sally Gardens' and in the title track, where life and love are sacrificied for a political cause. In a nutshell, it is maturity that is coming through most strongly - she's telling us that she sees things differently now. Yes, she has been through tragedy, but perhaps more importantly, she's just a little older. (Incidentally, we see the same things in the recent albums of Kate Bush and Tori Amos - a powerful new maturity that has disappointed some long-standing fans because they have changed...) Loreena truly understands the significance behind the tunes and the lyrics, and what the whole point of singing folk songs is. It wouldn't surprise me if she felt that her other wonderful albums (the exquisite Book of Sectrets included) have been a little frivolous, in some ways. They're wonderful music, but in large parts (with exceptions, such as Dante's Prayer) she was just playing when she wrote those. People will enjoy those for generations... but because these traditional songs refer to the fundamental, timeless aspects of the human condition, they not only sound beautiful, but they are a source of wisdom.

In summary, it's a new development as much as a return to her roots. She always presented a powerful feeling and raw emotional intonation, but here that has been pared down, put back into familiar, traditional vehicles, and honed to sheer folk perfection. Yes, in many places the songs are sad and regretful, but life often is - the question is how we deal with it. This isn't just music - sit down with nothing to do but listen, and then really listen. You'll be transported to the middle ages, or back to teenage days of folly; you will feel the pain of unfair circumstances and loss, but you'll come to understand - in the end, all we can do is accept our decisions and their outcomes. I'm sure Loreena will go back to the more exotic music soon, but I truly hope there is at least one more album like this.
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The Wind That Shakes The Barley
The Wind That Shakes The Barley by Loreena McKennitt (Audio CD - 2012)
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