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To Drive the Cold Winter Away

Loreena McKennitt

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Album Review

Recorded in various halls and abbeys in Ireland, and completed in the Church of Our Lady in Guelph, Ontario, harpist/arranger/vocalist Loreena McKennitt's first foray into the crowded field of holiday music — she would go on to release an EP called Winter Garden in 1995 — is steeped in old-world atmosphere. To Drive the Cold Winter Away celebrates the winter solstice through eight traditional English, Scottish, and Irish carols and ballads and two Mckennitt originals. The artist's reverence for her source material is moving, and her meticulous yet simple arrangements help tracks such as "The Wexford Carol," "The Kings," and "Let Us the Infant Greet" resonate with all of the grace and piousness that the lyrics and poems strive for. McKennitt has succeeded in making a beautiful, haunting, and ambitious yuletide song cycle that despite taking itself a little too seriously, ranks among her finest.

Biography

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...
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To Drive the Cold Winter Away, Loreena McKennitt
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