"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. 'Tango in Evora' is exactly that, combining Brian Hughes Balalaika, Hugh Marsh's fiddle and McKennit's voice in a lilting performance. In the 'Courtyard Lullaby' pre-Christian symbolism is used to evoke the flavor of old Europe's deepest spirituality. A thematic structure which is evoked again in 'The Old Ways,' but at a far faster pace. For her final piece, McKennitt chooses the mourning song from Shakespeare's Cymbeline, a play about the conflict between Roman and Celt. It is a fine setting, evoking both the tragedy and nobility of human mortality, and serves as a perfect ending.
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