Loreena McKennitt – The Journey So Far (The Best of) (2014)

Label: Quinlan Road

Review by Alessandra Cognetta

Loreena McKennitt needs no introduction. If most of us came to know and appreciate celtic music and folk in general, it is mostly through her wide repertoire. Her contribution to world music is notable, and this double CD is a great celebration of her work throughout the years.

“The Journey So Far” is a best of, collecting 12 songs handpicked by Loreena herself. The Deluxe version includes a second disc, “A Midsummer Night’s Tour”, which showcases 9 highlights from her 2012 summer tour. This is not the first compilation of Loreena‘s career, but while the first one dates back to 1997 (“The Best of Loreena McKennitt”) and the second, 2009’s “A Mummers’ Dance Through Ireland…”, featured only Irish-themed songs, “The Journey So Far” is a comprehensive collection, that doesn’t leave out the distinctive Middle Eastern influences or the most recent hits. 

In the first CD we can find a bit of everything, from “Bonny Portmore” to “Marco Polo”, as well as “Stolen Child”, directly from her first studio album “Elemental” (1985) and “Down By The Sally Gardens”, from her latest album “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (2010). Most of the other songs are either from “The Book of Secrets” (1997) and “The Mask and Mirror” (1994), but a notable addition is without a doubt “Penelope’s Song” from “An Ancient Muse” (2006), one of Loreena‘s works which best conveys the importance of Greek and Middle Eastern influences on her style. The way the tracklist is set really makes this album a journey for the listener, with great balance between the many phases of Loreena‘s career. A few tracks come in a special album edit and “The Mummer’s Dance” has been provided in a remixed version, a good way to display the greatest hits with a refreshing touch.

As for CD2, the live performances are simply flawless. In some cases, as is with every extremely talented artist, the live version is even more passionate than the studio one. The sound quality is remarkable and Loreena’s voice is nothing but a gem, from the most difficult note to the simplest melody hummed along with the piano. It is probably the best element of this compilation. This double disc bundle makes the artist’s new release one of the most complete overviews of her music as a whole, ever. It provides new material for the old-time fans, but it’s also what I would recommend as the definitive starting point for everyone who approaches Loreena McKennitt‘s music for the first time.

Rating – 80/100

 

Tracklist

CD1 – The Journey So Far

  1. The Mystic’s Dream (album edit)
  2. Bonny Portmore
  3. The Bonny Swans (album edit)
  4. The Mummers’ Dance (single remix)
  5. Down By The Sally Gardens
  6. Stolen Child
  7. The Lady Of Shalott (album edit)
  8. Marco Polo
  9. Penelope’s Song
  10. Huron ‘Beltane’ Fire Dance
  11. The Old Ways
  12. Dante’s Prayer

 

CD2 – A Midsummer Night’s Tour (Highlights)

  1. The Star Of The County Down
  2. Night Ride Across The Caucasus
  3. The Dark Night Of The Soul
  4. Santiago
  5. Beneath A Phrygian Sky
  6. As I Roved Out
  7. All Souls Night
  8. Caravanserai
  9. Full Circle

 

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