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The Mask and Mirror

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Album Review

Press play and enter the world of Loreena McKennitt, where walls dissolve into thick, billowing mists as the ground beneath your feet turns to compacted earth and the sky above opens up to reveal a black cloak dotted with shimmering stars draped beneath silk-like clouds. Were McKennitt's composing and songwriting abilities lacking of any luster (as they most certainly are not), her voice would still possess the strength to hold her fifth album, The Mask and Mirror, up on its own. But the combination of this talented woman's vocal prowess and songwriting ability makes her all the more similar to her work — ethereal and almost unbelievable in its level of quality. A mythical menagerie, The Mask and Mirror contains songs that lift the veil to reveal the soul of McKennitt's work in eight dreamlike, Celtic-inspired tracks. The opening track, "The Mystic's Dream" (featured on the TNT movie The Mists of Avalon, based on the novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley), is a haunting tune that features McKennitt at her most heavenly peak as a vocalist, evoking the spirits of the instruments and Gregorian chant-like background vocals that accompany her on the track. The album excels at conjuring up mythical visions in the listener's imagination, as with the gypsy-like tune "Marrakesh Night Market," which echos of the picturesque scene the title invokes. The soul-searching "Full Circle" best exhibits McKennitt's ability to transpose the true meaning of the lyrics into her songs. Even after the song ends, the somber mood lingers softly in the air. The balalaika (a three-stringed triangular-shaped instrument), the bouzouki (an eight-stringed instrument), and the hurdy-gurdy (a stringed instrument that also has keyboard and percussion parts) are among the rare, strange instruments introduced on many of the songs, including the lighthearted, uplifting "Ce He Mise Le Ulaingt? (The Two Trees)," on which these instruments demonstrate their incredible quality and prowess. The lyrics of this track are none other than the words of the poem of the same name by William Butler Yeats. McKennitt's unique use of the lyrical words of William Shakespeare, combined with her skillful adaptation of the words to the heavenly, undulating music, make the final track, "Prospero's Speech," an inspiration in itself. [The enhanced edition of the album includes bonus material on CD-ROM.] ~ Kerry L. Smith, Rovi

Customer Reviews

I love the song "The Bonny Swans"

OMG, i love the song "the bonny songs". Loreena has an amazing voice especially when she sings a story... she weaves a web around me and no-one else seems to understand. It's incredible!!! Also, the music video is amazing, so ethreal and surreal. If there was a magic world, that would be how i would imagine it!!!

Love all of her songs!

i love LM she da bomb love her to bits best music! so buy it and you will love her too!

Music for the enrichment of the Heart

I had not heard of Loreena Mckennitt up until this last week, I hope she will forgive my ignorance. As a fellow musician and composer, most of my time was and still is taken up with composing: (an ever lasting blissful pastime). Her music is so beautiful and intense and I would dearly love to have the honour of Loreena singing some of my music. More please! regards, Michael Horsphol


Born: 1957 in Morden, Manitoba, Canada

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Loreena McKennitt's literate and sometimes experimental focus on Celtic-tinged traditional and original material, coupled with her haunting harp playing, has made her Canada's national chanteuse and new age troubadour since she broke through to prominence in the mid-'80s. The daughter of a nurse mother and a livestock-trading father, McKennitt studied classical piano and voice and learned to dance in the highland style as a youngster. Her love of traditional music was strengthened in the folk clubs...
Full Bio