Friday, November 18, 2011

Music Review: Loreena McKennitt

Wow, I must apologize (to my huge audience, haha) for my complete lack of commitment to this blog. The good news is, because I never post, I always have lots of material backlogged in my brain to use when I do post, so it's never hard for me to think of something to write about.

I have not done a music review on here, yet. I have to say, one of my favorite musicians of all time is Loreena McKennitt. Not only does she have an amazing voice, but for a history/culture geek like me, her music is absolutely fascinating. When you have a hurdy-gurdy, uillean pipes, and an electric guitar all in one song, it can't not be good. She incorporates many world sounds into her music that you can't hear anywhere else, drawing primarily on Celtic and Middle Eastern sound. Her songs are intriguing, too. The lyrics are very poetic and poignant, reflecting a strong affinity to both nature and cultural traditions and celebrations. Some of her albums are primarily her covers of traditional Celtic songs; those usually aren't my favorites, though. I prefer her original songs, or, particularly, the songs she bases on poems. (I love "The Lady of Shalott" and "The Highwayman.") However, my favorites are probably her instrumental pieces. I love the way she uses rhythm and repetition to build the emotion in each piece.

Loreena McKennitt is little-known in the U.S. (she is Canadian), but she has made a few marks on our media. Her song "The Mummer's Dance" was featured on a preview for the Cinderella romance Ever After. Also, fascinatingly, she both narrates and sings the opening and closing songs for the Disney movie Tinkerbell. I generally try to avoid Disney's straight-to-DVD films, but I had to rent this one for my daughter, and I was so glad I did, especially when I recognized Loreena's voice! The score for the movie is wonderful, too, if you like Celtic music, and the animation is gorgeous. It's a cute story, too... typical feel-good Disney, but not the cheesiest I've seen.

Not sure how this became a movie review for Tinkerbell. Sorry about that. Anyway, my favorite Loreena McKennitt album is probably still The Book of Secrets, even though that is now almost 15 years old. I discovered it 8 years ago while working as a page in the bowels of the Grand Rapids Public Library. I took it home just because the art-work on the cover of the CD intrigued me--one of the best decisions I've ever made! The Book of Secrets features "The Mummer's Dance," "The Highwayman," and one of my favorite instrumentals, "Marco Polo." Ever since I discovered that CD, I've listened to any and all Loreena I can find. I really love her latest Christmas album, A Midwinter Night's Dream. If you like world or folk music and haven't listened to Loreena yet, you should probably check her out. Or at least rent Tinkerbell.

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