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The Visit

4.9 out of 5 stars 273 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 14, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

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Mixing a variety of styles with a Celtic base, this was McKennitt's breakthrough album and remains one of her most musically interesting. "All Souls Night" begins the album, with dance-like rhythms and McKennitt's wonderful voice singing about the Celtic New Year. Other features include a musical setting of Tennyson's "Lady of Shalott", which, while not as sophisticated as Noyes' "The Highwayman" on The Book of Secrets, is an enchanting listen. There's also an interesting rendition of "Greensleeves" and the Spanish-flavored "Tango to Evora", as well as the haunting "Courtyard Lullaby" and the wistful "The Old Ways". A setting of words from Shakespeare's Cymbeline closes the album, which focuses thematically on life, death, and the borders between them. --Genevieve Williams
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 14, 1992)
  • Original Release Date: April 14, 1992
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Quinlan Road
  • ASIN: B000002LT2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (273 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,239 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
"The Visit," recorded in 1992, has demonstrated, by its longevity and popularity, how important a position it holds in Loreena McKennitt's body of work. Based strongly in her Celtic roots McKennitt is as comfortable with traditional tunes as she is mixing old casks with new wine to make statements that are a pertinent today as they might have been 100's of years ago. The 'old religion' is mixed adroitly with modern spirituality to add a mystical texture that will haunt the listener long after the songs have ended.
Loreena's musicality is unimpeachable. I love her voice, which is capable of a rich variety of intonation and emotional content. Much of her work uses old dance rhythms based on fine drumwork by Al Cross and Rick Lazar. Indeed, all of her musicians are first class, and recording qualities are superb. Whether you are a Celtic music addict, a New Ager, or an old Folkie you will find much to enjoy here.
'All Soul's Night' is a striking combination of Japanese imagery and Celtic ritual with a dancing, percussive rhythm. In 'Bonny Portsmore' McKennitt sings a lamentation for the great oaks of Ireland, cut down for lumber by British military and shipbuilding interests. 'Between the Shadows shows off the singer's unique ability to write crossover tunes that combine Middle and Far Eastern influences with Celtic rhythms and instrumentation.
'Lady of Shallot' is one of my very favorite McKennitt songs. It is a pure, folk-like capturing of Tennyson's poem of an elven woman who is cursed to die if ever she let's herself love. It is a showcase for the singer's voice, which moves over her entire tonal range. 'Greensleeves' is a complete surprise. Emulating Tim Waits, McKennett produces an eerie, bluesy version that could almost have been written yesterday.
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Format: Audio CD
This was my first exposure to the Celtic songs and music of the Canadian artist Loreena McKennitt, and I'm hooked. Her voice is exquisite, and is backed up by a first rate group of musicians.
There are three songs of particular note on this CD. The first, "Bonny Portmore", is a sad, haunting remembrance of the Great Oak of Portmore, and is a general tribute to the memory of the old growth forests of Ireland, which were cut down for military and shipbuilding purposes during the centuries of English occupation.
If you've ever stood before J.W. Waterhouse's magical, dreamy painting "The Lady of Shalott" (1888), and wondered what's going on, then you'll understand after hearing McKennitt's adaptation of the same name in which she puts music to lyrics by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Briefly, it's the tragic story of a noble lady isolated in her castle on the river island of Shalott, and who is subject to the dire consequences of a curse should she ever gaze on nearby Camelot. One day, she sees reflected in a mirror the magnificent Lancelot riding by on his way to Arthur's legendary stronghold, whereupon she rushes to her window and watches as he enters the city. The mirror shatters, and the Lady realizes the curse is upon her. Now that there's nothing more to lose, she boards a small boat and floats alone down the river to Camelot, where she subsequently dies as soon as she comes under its walls. Lancelot, though he doesn't know her, notes her beauty, and commends her soul to God's grace.
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Format: Audio CD
The Visit is the first (and only) Loreena McKennitt recording that I've listened to; however, it's made me determined to find and hear more. Her voice is simply amazing; I think I could enjoy listening to add jingles if she were singing them. I can't describe it. You'll have to hear it for yourself.
The music was also very good--obviously Celtic inspired, but with a distinctive tone to it that I don't think I've heard anywhere else. The lyrics are quite good as well; "All Souls Night" was a really brilliant piece that succesfully avoided being unbearably New Agey. In "The Lady of Shalott," a haunting tune gave an entirely new feel to Tennyson's old poem; in my opinion, it's the best song on the recording. None of the other songs were quite so inspired, but they were still exceedingly good. The only exceptions were "The Old Ways""--the words were meandering and kind of meaningless, and the tune wasn't beautiful enough to make up for it--and "Greensleeves." I did *not* like the singing style she used for that one--it sounded as if she had been mortally wounded and were gasping out the song with her last breaths.
All in all, however, it was an absolutely amazing record--some of the songs I have listened to at least twenty times--and I hope to hear more of her stuff soon.
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Format: Audio CD
It is always a pleasure to extol the work of this remarkable woman. McKennitt is a true craftswoman of her art whose songs are brilliant; they fuse together her literary scholarship, her lovely singing voice and her creative and exceptional musicianship.
This is yet another volume of hers which lives up to the lofty expectations she has set via the quality of her other albums. One of the best features of this CD is her folk-song-like rendition of "Greensleeves." This has always been one of my favorite songs / melodies, yet it seems that it is difficult to find worthwhile recordings of it (either with or w/out the lyrics). McKennitt's ranks as one of the best I've ever heard (although that should come as no surprise).
This CD also includes Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Lady Of Shallot" (taken from his "Idylls Of The King) which McKennitt sets to music with impeccable taste and competence. The final track is a mysterious song from one of Shakespeare's last plays: "Cymbeline." As is the case with "The Mask And The Mirror," her summoning of the Bard serves as the ideal denouement of yet another spectacular CD.
In the final analysis, we are all visitors on this tiny globe. There are few things more worthy of sharing your brief sojourn with than the music and ideas of Loreena McKennitt. Her CDs are much more than just "listening to her songs." Rather, they are so profound that you will be doing nothing less than participating in a spiritual communion with her.
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