Loreena McKennitt

An Ancient Muse (Verve)

Phases & Stages

Loreena McKennitt

An Ancient Muse (Verve)

Loreena McKennitt remains the queen of Celto-spiritual music, a classically trained Canadian whose sweeping catalog dates back to the 1985 release of Elemental. Her last studio release, 1997's The Book of Secrets, was a crossover triumph, the tour de force that finally disseminated her panglobal musical vision via "The Mummers' Dance," a hit even in dance clubs. McKennitt's seventh full-length, An Ancient Muse, mists up beautifully, lush and expertly produced, shimmering with all the hallmarks of her transcendence while missing a killer track like "The Mummers' Dance" or "All Souls Night." Moreover, the album's seamlessness makes it more like New Age wallpaper than the gorgeous musical ice carvings we've come to expect from McKennitt. Present are incantations, exotic aurals, and instrumentations that hearken less to romanticized Celtic songs ("The English Ladye and the Knight") than their Celtic ancestry in the far reaches of Jordan ("Sacred Shabbat"), China ("Kecharitomene"), Turkey ("Caravanserai," "The Gates of Istanbul"), and Greece ("Penelope's Song"). Make no mistake, the lady has not put out a bad disc. Rather, its exquisite introspection and otherworldliness are an acute reminder that Loreena McKennitt follows a spiritual quest, and we're merely an audience in awe.

***

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