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Blackmore's Night - Secret Voyage CD (album) cover


Blackmore's Night


Prog Folk

3.75 | 70 ratings

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4 stars I too go with four stars on this release because it does indeed go a bit further along the renaissance-pop curve than earlier BN works. Ritchie's guitar work is top notch; Candice's vocals are emotive and wide ranging from sonnets (Rainbow Eyes, The Peasant's Promise and Far, Far Away) to a drinking song (Toast to Tomorrow), to a horse-race foray into the 20th Century (Can't Help Falling in Love).

For me, its the breadth of the styles of music that make this album so intriguing. The previous reviewer gave a wonderful set of song-by-song descriptions, so my comments are more along the lines of impressions, than anything.

The transition from Toast to Tomorrow to Prince Waldecks Galliard is remarkable - going from raucous, yea a happy party song, to A Segovia-esque classical guitar piece is a delight. The moods ebb and wane as the music takes you on side excursions that sound familiar, yet keep you entertained. Its exactly what a minstrel is supposed to do.

The lyrics to The Circle is a bit of a gypsy-new age kind of thing with all kinds of celestial rotations and revolutions. The song has very much an early music feel (like something from the 14th century). A simple tune that starts off with acoustic guitars and with an instrument that sounds like its from North Africa (kind of a reedy-harmonia kind of sound). The song evolves and builds, which is kind of ironic given that the Lyric says one thing about a universe of circles but the composition is very linear in its development.

Speaking of gypsies, Sister Gypsy sounds more like an Elizabethan raga; a story of a (supposedly) mythical free young lass, at one with her environs and somehow a bit untameable. The violinist's name is Gypsy Rose - maybe its about her!?! I ask because her violin work really highlights this song.

I vote positively for Can't Help Falling in Love. You leave the feeling of past centuries to enter into a pop-culture classic. The rhythm is a lark - boom, boom, boom at about 110-120 BPM, just the elixir for an impatient steed of a royal knight heading home to his lady. It has a horse-race feel. And it really sticks-out, wedged between music more reminiscent of 4-5 centuries ago. But, doggone it, it works for me.

Far, Far Away is distinctive, right away, as not being a BN composition. It comes closer to something that one might think Enya would compose/perform. But that is not meant in a negative way; the song is well put together. The key change at the 2 minute mark made me wonder what a few more key changes might have done to help the song move to another level. The lyrics relate the story of a woman who looks back across her years, and as she does, she wonders how all her youthful idealism got supplanted by bitterness and disappointment. Often, such is the price of wisdom.

Candice sings with a full and genuine level of emotion on the final tune, Empty Words. I'm glad that she and Ritchie decided to cap off the CD with this song. It is the most authentic song on the album and can easily be interpreted in a variety of ways and levels. Perhaps from a caring expression of an individual who hides from reality or intimacy to an entire social commentary. Either way, they hit the nail on the head about all who struggle to communicate genuinely, perhaps when when fear and distrust runs so rampant. We've come from a world where touch was central to conveying care; we now live in a world where touch is often considered inappropriate. Our words grow more empty in such a world. Not only is so much said in empty words, but there is so much sadness in empty words, too.

But I finish by saying there is nothing to be sad about with this album. Unfortunately, I'm not so convinced of its staying power, I likely won't be listening as intently to it four weeks from now, but I've enjoyed it as a musical companion for the middle of the summer of 2008. If you're heading to a Ren Festival anytime soon, put this one on.

macpurity1 | 4/5 |


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