Friday, August 14, 2009

Loreena McKennitt - To Drive the Cold Winter Away

8/10

Most Christmas music makes me want to go back in time and strangle Jesus in the manger. Most of the seasonal music that doesn't make me feel that way is in a more traditional style, like that found here. To Drive the Cold Winter Away is much in the same vein as Elemental. The album was recorded in a church, a monastery and a great hall, and the overall ambience is similar to that on McKennitt's first album; there's lots of space in the mix due to the sparse instrumentation and unusual recording locations, but it works very well, giving the album tons of atmosphere.
My favorite song here is "The King," but that's because I know that it's about an old English ritual that involved a dead wren that was paraded around as a king for some reason, which isn't really spelled out in the lyrics. The album's biggest faults are that a few tracks go on for more than a little too long and that, like its predecessor, it's more than a little samey. Still, it's head and shoulders above most Christmas music.

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