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Book of Secrets

The Book of Secrets

5.0 27
by Loreena McKennitt

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Critics love to bash Loreena. The Celtic mystery priestess throws theology, romantic poetry, and pagan symbology around like rice at a wedding. She arrays her whispery voice in a synth-drenched coat of groovy ethnic sounds and ignores the boundaries separating "traditional," "pop," and "classical." McKennitt's 11-minute take on Alfred Noyes's poem "The Highwayman" may


Critics love to bash Loreena. The Celtic mystery priestess throws theology, romantic poetry, and pagan symbology around like rice at a wedding. She arrays her whispery voice in a synth-drenched coat of groovy ethnic sounds and ignores the boundaries separating "traditional," "pop," and "classical." McKennitt's 11-minute take on Alfred Noyes's poem "The Highwayman" may verge on the cliché, but clichés become clichés precisely because they work. And McKennitt's considerable musical skill and strong grasp of traditional song forms works, too. She's an excellent harpist/accordionist with a great ear for sonic links between various traditions -- the mournful cadences of "Skellig" certainly sound traditional, but which tradition? Irish? French? Eastern European? For The Book of Secrets, McKennitt threw a pungent handful of Indo-Arabian sounds into her new age teapot; on "Marco Polo," the flavor is alluring, sort of like a laid-back younger sister to Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." Like a Hollywood adventure movie or a fantasy novel, The Book of Secrets requires a suspension of disbelief, yet it delivers myriad pleasures to those who can take it on its own terms.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Aaron Badgley
The Book of Secrets, the follow-up to 1994's The Mask and Mirror -- there was a Christmas EP, A Winter Garden, released in 1995) -- finds Loreena McKennitt in the same musical vein, mixing Celtic, Spanish, Italian, and new age to create her own distinct sound. The only problem is that she did not seem to progress much during the time between releases. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since she still knows how to write incredible melodies and layer instruments to produce peaceful images. "Night Ride Across the Caucasus" and "Dante's Prayer" are just two prime examples of this. And she continues her practice of setting classic poetry to music (Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman"). Expertly recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World studios, this CD serves as a travelog of sorts for McKennitt, musically detailing her travels during 1995 and 1996. She provides the musical and lyrical inspirations from each location she visited, utilizing the instruments and sounds she encountered on her travels. Although she may be referred to as the Canadian Enya, McKennitt is definitely her own person, producing music of beauty and warmth.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Loreena McKennitt   Primary Artist,Piano,Accordion,Harp,Keyboards,Vocals,Kanoon
Brian Hughes   Acoustic Guitar,Bouzouki,Electric Guitar,Synthesizer Guitar,Oud,Classical Guitar
Hugh Marsh   Violin
Donald Quan   Keyboards,Tabla,Timbales,Viola
Anne Bourne   Cello
Nigel Eaton   Hurdy-Gurdy
Steafan Hannigan   Bodhran
Nick Hayley   Serp,Rebec,Lira (Lyra)
Hossam Ramzy   Percussion
Martin Jenkins   Mandolin,Mandocello
Manu Katché   Drums
Caroline LaVelle   Cello,Viola Da Gamba
Rick Lazar   Percussion
Steve Pigott   Keyboards
Johnathan Rees   Strings,Violin
David Rhodes   Electric Guitar
Robin Jeffrey   Guitar
Danny Thompson   Acoustic Bass
Bob White   Whistle (Instrument),Shawm,tin whistle
Martin Brown   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Mandola
Paul Clarvis   Snare Drums
Chris Van Kampen   Strings,Cello
Aidan Brennan   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Mandola
Joanna Levine   Viola Da Gamba
Osama   Violin
Iain King   Strings,Violin
Andy Brown   Strings,Viola

Technical Credits

Brian Hughes   Vocal Drone
Doug Riley   Arranger,String Arrangements
Donald Quan   Vocal Drone
Caroline Dale   Arranger,String Arrangements
Brian Gascoigne   Arranger,String Arrangements
Kevin Killen   Engineer
Loreena McKennitt   Arranger,Producer
Stuart Bruce   Engineer,Vocal Drone
String Quartet   Contributor
Claude Fortin   translation

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The Book of Secrets 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's all been said, read the reviews. One of my favorite artists.....you won't be disappointed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can listen to this album over and over again and not get tired of it one bit. I'd like to be listening to it when I die.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd is actually relaxing! Almost hypnotic! It has a celtic sound as well as a sound of India in it. Even if you only buy it to hear Marco Polo and The Mummers Dance, it is worth it! This is a cd to put in after a long stressful day. I thoroughly enjoy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is like reading a really good fairy tale. I love her vocals because she's such a natural singer, not a fake.(Not to mention the instrumentals, which go beyond words.) It sounds so effortless. I particularly like the song The Highwayman, because its lyrics are one of my favorite poems by the same title (by Alfred Noyes). LOVE THIS CD. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love listening to Book of Secrets. I would have to say that is my favorite cd that I own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a beautifully haunting cd. the songs and the music are very relaxing. the artist also tells you what inspired her. one of the better cds i have heard in a while
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've only heard this one and "parallel dreams" but this one is the preferred
Guest More than 1 year ago
this would defintely be one of the things I would want with me. This CD is beautiful. It is very haunting and soul stirring
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think thay this C.D represents the sound of magic,of the imagination, is the music of the human culture. The perfect mixture. simply unbeatable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
what an incredible voice - and the mix of instrumental/music is wonderful....
Guest More than 1 year ago
When i listen to Loreena's music, it takes me to a place where no words can describe. The soothing,warmness,comfort is not of this earth it is of the HEAVENS.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has got to be the best cd ever! It is filled with beauty and passion. Bravo Loreena McKennitt!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am hyptomized by The Highwayman. The music and lyrics was the best I have heard.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loreena McKennitt is a musical Goddess, an enchantress weaving her spell with a swirl of intricate world rhythms and Celtic undertones. Her ''Mummer's Dance'' seduces us from the first undulating notes, building and layering as she conjures her mysterious tapestry of sound. This is Celtic soul music, stirring up memories of the Old Ways when our bare feet connected directly to the earth below. McKennitt always takes us on a musical journey, and this album is no exception...her inborn wanderlust for Celtic roots has led her to explore ancient drums and turning passageways, forever leading us deeper into her richly woven patterns. Her music is the stuff of dreams and memory...haunting us from some far off place of exquisite beauty. There simply is no other artist quite like Loreena. She is unique, spellbinding, and hypnotic. ''The Book of Secrets'' is a CD you will listen to again and again, each time appreciating another layer of Loreena's musical gifts. Treat yourself! *!Bright Blessings!*
Guest More than 1 year ago
Her music is very up-lifting and almost Hypnotic. I can listen to her CD for hours.
Guest More than 1 year ago
loreena mckennits hauntingly mysterious voice will not be one that you will soon forget. From the very first song, you will undoubtubly fall deep into the shadows and valleys of ms. mckennits mind, as she pulls you up and down, left and right to the most uncharted and feared craters of the human soul.This album is for anyone, especially those who can appreciate loreena mckennits way of weaving a classic celtic fairy tale with the dream-like,and sometimes decalit story of her travels. I dont often rave about an album like this, but 'the book of secrets' is definatly an exception.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loreena McKennitt continues to display her mastery in combining musical elements from different cultures to come up with seamless, heady compositions that are uniquely hers. ¿The Mummers¿ Dance¿ and ¿The Highwayman¿ are standouts. McKennitt¿s breathy, understated vocals never overshadow the richness of the instrumental arrangements beneath them, the sound of her voice becoming just one more instrument in a swirl of plaintive laments and passionate fire. Words seem inadequate to describe this kind of music, a product of such lushly creative imagination that it is difficult to conceptualize if you haven¿t actually heard it. So go find a link to click on, and listen. And once you¿ve heard, you¿ll understand, and the words won¿t matter. McKennitt¿s prolific and innovative work to date has been truly seminal, bringing inspiration to a planet-full of listeners and opening new vistas in world music. It¿s been six years now since she has released an album of new material, and I understand she¿s endured some difficult times in the interim. Loreena, you¿ve already accomplished more in one lifetime than most of us could in many. But if you find more music in your heart, whether similar to your past work or different, we would be graced and honored should you choose to share your visions with us once again. Blessed be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's got to be the best C.D. I have ever heard and it's great for medatation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is refreshing to hear such beautiful and thoughtful music in a time when really good music is seldom heard and appreciated. I will reccommend this C.D to anyone seeking new musical inspiration for the 21st century.
Guest More than 1 year ago
''The Highwayman'' takes you to another world; you can get lost in your imagination. Very powerful work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of my favorite CD's of all time. The instruments, the lyrics, that voice are sheer brilliance. What else can I say? An awesome, worthy CD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The single handed best celtic album i have eveer heard! Her voice electrifies your surrondings! And keeps you under a spell!
Guest More than 1 year ago
because of the Mythical Sound it had to it. This is one of the most beautiful CD's I have ever listened to. It's magnificent to have a CD like this at night to sleep to, for when you close your eyes to it, it's a lullaby and it puts you into complete bliss of heaven.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is, simply put, a great album. It has almost everything: depth, emotional intelligence, wonderfully rhythmic arrangements that blend styles normally considered worlds apart and, of course, Loreena's incredible voice. It will appeal to you if you are a fan of Celtic music, of soaring female vocals, or of intricately woven, almost classic arrangements - it has all of these and more. While many songs are 'relaxing', this is not new age elevator music. It is far too challenging and varied to fall into that category. In the opening review, the writer says that Loreena's music is often panned by the professional critics. I can see no foundation for such criticisms save one - envy. The range and depth of this woman's intellect - clear from her songwriting - places her in very select company. While her brilliance might intimidate a wanna-be critic, it will thrill and inspire the true music lover. The only songwriter I can think of who surpasses Loreena in depth and impact is Bruce Cockburn. But Bruce has the advantage of being male and writing about political injustices - making him harder to criticize for actually thinking.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this CD simply becasue I found the music to be easy listening and rather intrigueing. When I listen to this Cd I can let my mind go and dream while the music plays. I enjoyed reading the information on the lyric page...It has to do with the history of of the music and lyrics and I love history. I think she has a lovely voice and I'm looking forward to buying more of her music