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Long ago and far away

December 12, 2006|by FEDORA COPLEY

Review

I popped Loreena McKennitt's new CD into place and pressed Play, expecting a bombardment of Middle Eastern-sounding, twanging guitar-like instruments and textured percussion. I was disappointed.

For any McKennitt veteran who expects, like me, rhythmic, swirling chords, here's some advice: Be open to something a little different.

As I listened to more of McKennitt's new CD, "An Ancient Muse," I learned to appreciate the contemplative quality of her notes. In the liner notes, she writes about her interest in the history and origins of the Celts - the ancient tribes usually associated with the British Isles.

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Celtic themes are the basis of many of her songs. In "An Ancient Muse," McKennitt followed the Celts' travels and was led as far away from Great Britain as Turkey, Greece and China. I read the liner notes and found that knowing the inspiration behind the songs adds to the stories they relate.

"Caravanserai," the third song on the CD, captivates me. It has the energy I'm used to in her songs. I can't help but dance, with a certain circular movement of my hips. I'm sure onlookers find it more amusing than evocative, but hey, I'm cool with that. McKennitt's music transports me to far-away places in long-ago times. Onlookers hardly matter.

For listeners seeking up-tempo musical energy, "An Ancient Muse" might not be the CD for you. These songs are quieter and more thoughtful but no less beautiful. If you're willing to taste timeless grandeur, press play and be transported.

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