21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
, 20 April 2006
This review is from: THE BOOK OF SECRETS (Audio CD)
This is far from Loreena McKennitt's first album, but it may be her breakthrough album. In this recording she has captured a glorious cross-section of Celtic-influenced international-themed songs. The 'chart topper' on the album is 'The Mummer's Dance', ironically not in the version that was heard on most American radio stations (that is a souped-up version released on CD-single, which was also used for the theme music for a short-lived television series called 'Legacy'). This has the rhythms, instrumentation and lyric qualities one has come to associate with modern Celtic tunes (a la Enya, Marie Brennan, Clannad, etc.).
Other songs are modern-day retellings of folk songs: 'The Highwayman' is a decidedly anti-British-occupation song, in which the heroine sacrifices her life to save her lover who is about to be trapped -- the Celtic peoples have learned from Roman times to the present to drink deep from the cup of sorrow, and this song (among others on the album)is a generous portion for that cup.
My favourite song, however, must be 'Skelling' -- it conjures up visions of monastic vows and solitude, a journey into life's vocation that requires both inward and outward travel far from home, never to return, but ultimately being content and safe in the community. Sweet and melancholy, the learned monk, reminiscent of Saint Francis for his love of animals, is essentially giving his final will and testament, a most spiritual treasure beyond valuing, from someone with vows of poverty.
Interspersed are several instrumental interludes, with differing characters (some decidedly oriental, others western, all however bearing a strong Celtic stamp).
This is a perfect introduction to McKennitt's work, but do not stop there. Her previous work is well worth exploring.
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