Culture & Criticism Since 2003
That Canada’s vaunted Loreena McKennitt has finally done a “Best of” album is no surprise. Certainly, her library of music (10 studio albums and at least a half dozen stellar live performances) leaves plenty from which to choose. Given the general quality of her music, she could have made a quadruple CD “Best of” album, while thousands would have likely complained that she left their favorites out of the package.
Mind you, the songs that McKennitt chose are an amazing selection, including: ‘Bonny Portmore,’ ‘The Bonny Swans,’ ‘The Mummers’ Dance,’ ‘Down By The Sally Gardens,’ ‘Stolen Child,’ ‘The Lady Of Shalott,’ ‘Marco Polo,’ ‘Penelope’s Song,’ ‘Huron,’ ‘Beltane,’ ‘Fire Dance,’ ‘The Old Ways,’ ‘Dante’s Prayer,’and ‘The Mystic’s Dream.’
Basically, this should be regarded as a great Loreena McKennitt starter kit. If you aren’t familiar with her music, this serves as an ideal introduction to her soaring soprano voice as it melds with the Celtic/Middle Eastern fusion style of the music.
McKennitt is unique in many ways. She became known by busking on the streets of Halifax, Nova Scotia; she collected the names and addresses of people who liked her music and promised to contact them when she made her first album. Finally, using funds that had been earmarked for her to attend veterinary school, she made an album on cassette tape; it sold an amazing 70,000 copies. McKennitt then made another album, which sold even better, at which point major record labels finally took notice. After a string of successful records, she now has her own label (Quinlin Road) of which she is the sole “creative property.” As this “Best of” collection attests, the results are spectacular.
If you are already a Loreena McKennitt fan, you probably have all the music here. But if you’re not yet a follower, The Journey So Far will likely get you hooked.
Zepp Jamieson was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and spent his formative years living in various parts of Canada, the UK, South Africa and Australia before finally moving to the United States, where he has lived for over 40 years. Aside from writing, his interests include hiking, raising dogs and cats, and making computers jump through hoops. His wife of 25 years edits his copy, and bravely attempts to make him sound coherent. Reach him through The Electric Review.