Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review: 'The Book of Secrets' by Loreena McKennitt

'The Book of Secrets,' Loreena McKennitt, 1997, Warner Bros.. Cover: intriguing. Pictures on the inside of fruit opened to show seeds is colourful but a little weird. Lyrics included.

Loreena McKennitt has a singular sound which we find lends itself very well to the writing of fantasy books, although this album is actually well grounded in history. One of the tracks found here has vocals but no real words; but with McKennitt's voice, words are not necessary. 

One of our favourite tracks on this CD is 'The Highwayman,' an abridged version of the poem by Alfred Noyes set to music. McKennitt writes her own lyrics for the most part, however, including most of those found in 'The Mummers' Dance,' whose chorus is that of a traditional mumming song. Personally, we're a bit uncomfortable with mumming, which, McKennitt says, has its roots in the tree worshiping peoples who inhabited Europe long ago. But this song can be taken other ways; & it's downright beautiful.

'Marco Polo' has in it an authentic Sufi melody McKennitt ran across during her travels; the melody makes the song, & McKennitt was right to include it. From the sorrow of 'Skellig' to the evocative 'Prologue,' from songs featuring McKennitt's clear, willowy voice to instrumentals (all written by McKennitt), this album is a must-have. 

In addition to the lyrics, McKennitt offers the history of how she created each of these tracks through her travels; the history is written in both English & French. There is a small problem with the graphics on the inside of the package; they can get in the way of reading when the words are on top of them.    

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