Friday, August 21, 2009

Loreena McKennitt - The Mask and Mirror


One of the first things you hear when you put this on is an electric guitar. Thankfully, Loreena was smart enough not to rely on it outside of the album's opening song, and she uses it in a way consistent with her previous output (as opposed to Enya, whose use of a guitar solo in a song on "...And Winter Came" is one of the most out-of-place moments I've ever heard in music).
The Mask and Mirror is a very consistent record. The songs are long without being excessive; outside of the final three and a half minute track, the shortest tracks are just under six minutes long. There's also some unusual instrumentation that doesn't even come from non-European countries, such as the bouzouki, (Greece) balalaika (Russia) and hurdy-gurdy (Western Europe). Some sections are more subdued than others, but they never feel underproduced like the similar sections on Parallel Dreams, being more reminiscent of the wide-open but full-sounding production on To Drive the Cold Winter Away. There isn't a bad moment here. It's the best Loreena McKennitt release, if just by a hair.

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