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

SECRET VOYAGE

Blackmore's Night

 

Prog Folk

3.77 | 48 ratings

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Alitare
4 stars Oh! Another Blackmore's Night album? Are you sure about that, mate? Oh, okay. At least it's not another Christmas record, my stomach can't handle it.

Blackmore's Night - Secret Voyage (2008)

Best Song: Locked Within The Crystal Ball

Overall Rating: 11

I thought it couldn't be done, myself, and after the excruciating debacle of Winter Carols, I figured (or desperately hoped) that Ritchie Blackmore would finally retire his guitar and pick up something equally pretentious, like painting, politics, or reviewing music albums. But, no, he brings his pack of jaunty minstrels back for another slab of his post-Rainbow folking off with lover, Candice Night in Blackmore's Night's latest release, Secret Voyage. I thought it could never be done, but the band has finally started developing a personality, a musical identity, if you will. For those of you who thought they already had a musical identity, let me just say that I don't count "derivative medieval dragon folk". I DO count "interesting, derivative medieval dragon folk", though, and this is what we get, here, I s'pose.

There are several things that push this one above its peers. Mainly, Blackmore is doing more actual rocking than ever before, just check the mammoth second track, Lost Within The Crystal Ball, for a shot in the back. It rips, it roars, there are solos scattered all over it, and even Ms. Night's vocal melodies are starting to become more complex, and dare I say it? They are starting to be more memorable, and her skills are maturing. Actually, the whole band is maturing, and for a group of elderly fops, that's an achievement! Secondly, there are "only" 50 minutes of material, here, instead of the usual 60 or 70, which was always overkill. The subdued length makes the material easier to consume. So, we're looking at maturation, subtlety, and more diversity. This might actually be great!

Sadly, nothing reaches the rocking heights of Lost Within The Crystal Ball, even if the mood isn't exactly samey all the way through. You've got your typical folk rockers ("Gilded Cage", "The Circle"), acoustic guitar rave-ups ("Prince Waldeck's Galliard", which is quite tasteful and pretty, I might add), more 'rock' oriented numbers ("Rainbow Eyes", and my lauded favorite), Jewish ragtime ("Toast To Tomorrow"), and a little more, but it's still too similar to the previous material to be too special, the only difference is, even if it's almost the same atmosphere and style as before, it's a little more memorable, at least to me. Which makes this sucker prime candidate for the title of "One Blackmore's night album to own, if you want to own any, at all", so take that as you will.

There are more electric guitars than before, and they really add spice to some of the songs. Rainbow Eyes is another charming ditty that is admirably sweetened by the interplay of Blackmore's guitar and Night's singing. The solos aren't half bad, either. They're painfully derivative, but at least they stick in my mind, afterward. Even though it doesn't have Lost... the second side is definitely the better of the to. It's got more diversity, more energy, and more solid melodic power. It's also poppier, which might turn some folks off, but songs like "Far Far Away" are so jolly and rousing that I can't fault them. Well, I CAN fault them, because they're still not deeply cathartic, nor are they the ultimate folk bar anthems, and they're certainly not too original, though their personal identity as a band finally starts bleeding through their work.

I don't know whether to call this a sign of positive things to come, or to call it Blackmore's Night's final she-bang, but for now, I'll say that Secret Voyage is the best from this band that money can buy. It's the most concise, and houses the most sheer diversity, maturity, and energy. Even if it's all been done ad infinitum, it hasn't been done better too many times. It really does fit in well as an amazing background to most anything. Damn, I am coming off too wishy-washy. This is good music, sometimes it's even really good. It works well as a sound-scape, especially if you can avoid paying much attention to the work, and can oft times be almost gorgeous, but it's gratuitously harmless, and won't blow anyone's mind. There, maybe I won't ever have to do another stinkin' Blackmore's Night review in my trivial little life!

Alitare | 4/5 |

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