Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Loreena McKennitt - Elemental

8/10

Loreena McKennitt's first album is considerably sparer than her later efforts (not surprising when one considers that it was recorded in a barn). It's one of her most organic-sounding albums; there's not a whole lot here that can be considred "new age". As can be expected from a folk singer's first album, there isn't one song here that's truly original, as 7 of the songs are traditional and the other two are adaptations of poems by Yeats and Blake. Loreena's harp is the main instrument here, with a few bells and some guitar here and there. As on all of her material, Loreena's voice is wonderful, perfectly suited for Celtic material; I actually didn't realize that she was Canadian for several years.
The only real misfire here is the final track, "Lullaby". It starts out well enough, with some great wordless vocalizing from Loreena, but then it segues into a horribly pretentious reading of Blake by some guy that wouldn't have sounded too out of place on The Transformed Man. (Yes, I gave that album a 10, but I'm glad it wasn't influential or anything!) Still, at least it's an entertaining kind of badness. The rest of the album is a little samey at times, but still really well done and a fine debut.

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