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Loreena McKennitt

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Right: let's talk about Loreena, perhaps the greatest and most popular singer-songwriter of folk music with celtic influences.
Endowed with a soprano voice that can melt butter, the woman is also an accomplished pianist, harpist and percussionist (as well as an Officer of the British Empire and a Honorary Colonel of the RAF).

dbbf5d89962d5de6889d4fdfc70bb40f--loreen

How do I explain what's so great about Loreena?
Well, do you miss Angels Fall First-era Tarja? You've come to the right place.
Or do you like EFMB-era Troy? Fantastic, you're also in the right place.

She debuted in 1985 with Elemental, a relatively raw album; the gem there is "Stolen Child", with lyrics stolen from Yeats.
Start with this haunting rendition from 2004.

You like it?
Great.
Her second album , of all things, was essentially a Christmas album, "To Drive The Cold Winter Away".

In 1990 it was Parallel Dreams, and in 1991 The Visit, in which her rendition of Greensleeves prominently features.
Oh, right: it was supposed to be a demo, hence the copious use of synth strings.

 

The Mask and Mirror from 1994 features what I deem to be her masterpiece, Marrakesh Night Market, infused with exoticism and meditations about God which sound like they came out of Brendan Perry's pen:

 

The Book of Secrets, in 1997, featured her Nemo and her Ghost Love Score - that would be dancey piece appropriately titled The Mummer's Dance and the masterpiece that is Dante's Prayer.

If you have to start somewhere, start from her live album and DVD A Night at The Alahambra from 2004.
Great setlist, awesome arrangements, great band, great playing and great singing from a mature Loreena, commanding and profound as ever.

One final song from said DVD, "The Bonny Swans":

 

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Loreena <3 If it wasn't for the existence of Hansi Kursch she'd probably be my favourite vocalist of all time - as it is it's a close run thing.

I am awaiting a new studio album from her with bated breath - I confess, I was a little underwhelmed by her latest effort (The Wind That Shakes The Barley). I mean, she sounded beautiful as ever, and the album was nice, but it was very much a "back to the roots" straightforward folky-Celtic album, and I quite enjoy the way she brings in other musical influences from around the world in most of her albums. I'm hoping that we hear some more of that on any future releases.

I think my favourite of her albums so far is "The Mask and the Mirror". Along with "The Bonny Swans" (I'm pretty sure that this story is some sort of rite of passage for bands of a folkish bent, I've got versions of it by Clannad, the Mediaeval Baebes, Steeleye Span, even a German language version by Subway to Sally), there's also "The Mystic's Dream", "Santiago", "Prospero's Speech".... Honestly, I think "The Two Trees" is the only one from that album that I never really got into, and it's still a very nice song. For songs from other albums, I'm particularly fond of "Skellig", "Night Ride Across the Caucasus", "All Soul's Night", "Stolen Child", "The Old Way", "The Star of the County Down", "Caravanserai"... I'm just going to stop listing songs now. I'd post links, but I'd probably slow the loading time for the thread to a crawl :P

She's actually released a second Xmas album since "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" - it's called "A Midwinter Night's Dream", and it's lovely. Her "Emmanuel" is the standard by which I judge all others.

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1 hour ago, Himiko said:

I think my favourite of her albums so far is[...] I'm just going to stop listing songs now. I'd post links, but I'd probably slow the loading time for the thread to a crawl :P

We share the same taste, it appears, down to...

1 hour ago, Himiko said:

She's actually released a second Xmas album since "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" - it's called "A Midwinter Night's Dream", and it's lovely. Her "Emmanuel" is the standard by which I judge all others.

...her Emmanuel.
The only reason I didn't mention it in here is that I started this thread after linking to Loreena's Emmanuel in the Tarja thread.
It's my standard as well (along with that other little thing I linked in there, even if it's just one stanza).

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Loreena's voice is great. Her music quite a bit different from what I normally listen to and that's why I find it a hit and miss for my taste. My favourite album has to be The Book of Secrets. It's also the album I discovered her with and there's no bad song on it. 

Edit: I can't deny that all of her music is very well made, but I don't like all of it.

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I learned about her when she did a collaboration with Cesaria Evora (one of my favourite melancholic singers) on 'Tango to Evora' (1991) . I absolutely love that song!!!!!

 

 

A friend of mine then send me 'Dante's prayer' (2014) and I'm now on my way to listen to and buy about 'everything' by her. She's alright:giggle:

To be honest........The Name Of The Wind has a point there, infidel or not. I don't know any artist which work I appreciate for the full 100%. Leonard Cohen comes closest, I think. 

 

* Also don't care at all about these English Empire titles and honorary this and that. They're given to any imbecile there. Also honorary University titles are about the biggest nonsense there are. For what exactly?? People who never studied there, didn't do anything remarkable on education level, but scored a world title in cricket!!!!!! Pfffffffff........!! Give me a good volunteer any day!:dwarf:

 

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Ah, I recall back in the nineties when the Mummers' Dance was on TV/radio.

 

She's a great and distinctly Canadian artist. And not in the tiresome CBC way some others are, like Jann Arden or the Barenaked Ladies.

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I just realised that this hasn't been posted about here yet, but Loreena has a new studio album out as of last week! It's called "Lost Souls", and it's basically a collection of 9 songs that she's written over the years that never made it onto any of her previous releases. I've only had a chance to listen to it a couple of times, but it's sounding lovely so far - it's up on Spotify (in the UK at least), and there's a few songs up on Youtube - below is the opening track "Spanish Guitars and Night Plazas", which I think is somewhat reminiscent of songs from "The Visit" or "The Mask and the Mirror".

I also read an interview/ review where she mentioned having ideas for another album in her sights, which is somewhat reassuring given that there was a 7/8 years gap between Lost Souls and her last studio album, and an even longer gap since her last original studio album - her last album was comprised of traditional folk songs, whilst the one before that was her take on a number of well known Christmas songs. There's also apparently a tour planned for later this year.

So, YAY for new Loreena!

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@Himiko

I snapped up 3 cd's by her on King's Day flea markets here: A WINTER GARDEN, AN ANCIENT MUSIC and THE VISIT. For fifty cents each and in prime condition!!!!

Have not listened to them yet. Any thoughts on those? 

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That's the kind of pricing I can get behind!

In all honesty, I don't actually own A Winter Garden, but I have got A Midwinter Night's Dream, which contains all 5 of the WG songs plus a few others - I'm not sure if the songs were re-recorded for AMWND, but if they're the same version I've always been particularly fond of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (in fairness, it's one of my favourite carols generally). All of them get regular rotation in my Christmas playlist though.

The Visit is probably my favourite of the 3 you mention, it seems to be the turning point at which she really starts to weave more Spanish and Middle Eastern influences into her songs compared to her earlier albums which were in a more straightforward Celtic-folk vein. Highlights for me are probably All Souls Night and The Old Ways. An Ancient Muse is quite similar in style, maybe a bit more polished sounding, my main gripe with this album is that there's maybe fewer standout songs on it compared to her other releases. Penelope's Song is pretty beautiful though, and there aren't any songs that jump out at me as bad.

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I think my favourite would be An Ancient Muse, I love that record so much. The eastern influences are amazing, I especially love Beneath a Phrygian Sky, The English Ladye and the Knight and Never-ending Road. 
And also The Book of Secrets, with The Mummer's Dance, Skellig, The Highwayman and Dante's Prayer is an amazing record. 
Even if there isn't an Loreena album where I like all the songs, each one of them has at least one song that I think is wonderful. I still have to give a proper listen to this new album (which, if I got it right, is like a collection of b-sides, pretty much), but I already love Spanish Guitars and Night Plazas.

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Finally listened to the new album, and have to say, it sounds like a collection of most boring songs from her previous albums. It is no wonder these souls had been lost in the first place. Sorry, Loreena, better luck next time in some 9 years when you release your next album. 

But again, she is touring Europe again next year, I will try to see her then. 

 

EDIT:

OK, Ages past, ages hence is actually a very nice song. 

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Loreena announced she will be retiring from music-related activities "for an indefinite time period", in order to devote her time to her family and to some NGO things she has been active in her local community. 

https://loreenamckennitt.com/putting-the-music-business-on-hold/

It is a sad thing, but again, she is in certain age already, so not too surprising. And to be honest, her last recording was very underwhelming to me, and it felt as if she lost inspiration or will, as also testified by huge time gaps between her albums. 

However, I saw her live for the third time this summer, and it was a magical concert as ever, and her songs still sound much better live than on record, which is something any musician should be proud of. 

Good luck, Loreena with whatever you will be doing next, and thank you for some wonderful songs you have given us. 

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Yeah I received the newsletter today. I too wasn't very surprised, being her an artist more focused on quality and necessity than quantity. I'm a bit sad because she's really fantastic live (as @Baki said. She and her band are just magical... Caroline <3), I think I've seen her 3 times in Florence. I admit I'm curious to see how she intends to take action against climate change, as it's clear it will not be through music. 

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Exactly, she's incredible live. When I want to listen to songs that so have official live version, I never go to studio version, because they are always inferior to concert renditions. 

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On 11/4/2019 at 4:57 PM, Baki said:

Exactly, she's incredible live. When I want to listen to songs that so have official live version, I never go to studio version, because they are always inferior to concert renditions. 

You know, I never thought about doing that... I often listen to Nights from the Alhambra, but I could do with some more live materials.
By the way, I always hope to meet her casually since she has a house and close friends in Montisi, not too far (not super close, but close) from where I live and work. A girl I know had her for dinner once, by chance, because Loreena's driver was her friend. And she didn't even know who she was... "oh yeah, she gave me a cd..." :mda:

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Haha, that is a cool story. I imagine she would be a cool conversant, unless she starts preaching about dangers of technology in the middle of the dinner. :p

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"you youngsters, and your goddamned electricity..." 

It's like when tea made fairies disappear, everybody underestimated its dangers.

 

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@Calinn Just happened to be reading about "Ok Boomer" today (I'm old enough that I didn't know this ref). So funny in light of, "damn kids and their electricity!". cf. https://nationalpost.com/entertainment/how-ok-boomer-became-gen-zs-calling-card/amp

Must note, see for example "Born in the 50's" by the Police (literal boomers):

Oh, you opened the door for us
And then you turned to dust
You don't understand us, so don't reprimand us
We're taking the future, we don't need no teacher

Gen Z, you're totally right - but culture and our experience of it isn't so different one generation to the next.

And as for tea, sure that's ok but I'm with the oldtimer here. Give me a dark malt at room temperature! Things will go (down) much better...

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