An award-winning exploration of Celtic and folk influences, recast in an adventurous and contemporary light and featuring evocative lyrics by Tennyson, Shakespeare, Henry VIII and the artist herself.
Download the CD booklet in PDF format (244 KB)
(English/French version only)
Broadening her focus toward a more eclectic range of Celtic-related subjects, and following her attendance at an international exhibition of Celtic artefacts in Venice, Loreena’s writing in her fourth album, The Visit, takes on the form of musical historical travel writing.
A multimillion-selling success around the world, this 1991 recording recasts Loreena’s early influences in an inventive and contemporary light. Its nine self-produced tracks range from a haunting version of “Greensleeves” sung “as I imagine Tom Waits might have done it” and a stirring instrumental “Tango To Evora” to the heartrending traditional balladry and proto-environmentalism of “Bonny Portmore” and, finally, one of Loreena’s best-loved creations, a gorgeously melodic setting of Tennyson’s epic Arthurian poem “The Lady Of Shalott”.
“The Celts knew, as we are re-learning now, the importance of a deep respect for all the life around them,” Loreena concludes. “This recording aspires to be nothing so much as a reflection into the weave of these things.”
“I have long considered the creative impulse to be a visit – a thing of grace, perhaps, not commanded or owned so much as awaited, prepared for. A thing, also, of mystery. This recording endeavours to explore some of that mystery.
It looks as well into the earlier eastern influences of the Celts and the likelihood that they started from as far away as Eastern Europe before being driven to the western margins of Europe, particularly in the British Isles. With their musical influences came rituals around birth and death which treated the land as holy and haunted; this life itself as a visit. Afterwards, one’s soul might move to another plane, or another form – perhaps a tree. The Celts knew then, as we are re-learning now, a deep respect for all the life around them. This recording aspires to be nothing as much as a reflection into the weave of these things.” – L.M.
All Souls Night:
This piece was inspired by the imagery of a Japanese tradition which celebrates the souls of the departed by sending candle-lit lanterns on out waterways leading to the ocean, sometimes in little boats; along with the imagery of the Celtic All Souls Night celebrations, at which time huge bonfires were lit not only to mark the new year, but to warm the souls of the departed.
The destruction of old growth forests has become an important conservation issue in recent years, but it is not a new phenomenon. Over the centuries, many of Ireland’s old oak forests were levelled for military and shipbuilding purposes. Only recently has there been an effort to re-establish these great hardwoods. The Great Oak of Portmore stood on the grounds of Portmore Castle on the shore of Lough Beg.
I always wondered how Tom Waits would sing “Greensleeves”. When preparing my previous recording, Parallel Dreams, while waiting to do something else, we accidentally and spontaneously recorded this track in one take without ever intending to release it. However, here it is, Tom.
Tango To Evora:
This piece was originally conceived and recorded for the National Film Board of Canada documentary The Burning Times, directed by Donna Reid.
The photographs that appear in this booklet were taken at Quinta das Torres, a 16th century hunting lodge near Azeitão, Portugal, where photographer Elisabeth Feryn and I stayed for a week. Within the lodge was a courtyard, marked at each corner by orange trees. The feel of the place reminded me of the Unicorn tapestries which hang in The Cloisters in New York City. The tapestries and the lodge are both rich with earthy, pre-Christian iconography depicting the mysterious life and death cycle of the seasons. It was in the courtyard of Quinta das Torres that this piece was conceived.
The Old Ways:
I spent a most haunting New Year’s Eve in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland some years ago, and was moved by the antiquity of some of the celebrations. I was met by deep reminders that they may be the remnants of the old world meeting the “new”.
Here are William Shakespeare’s thoughts on this earthly visit. This song occurs toward the end of his romance Cymbeline, which was written near the end of the author’s life. The play is set in ancient Britain when the Romans were invading the last remaining outpost of the old Celtic order.
Produced by Loreena McKennitt
Co-produced by Brian Hughes
LM: Vocals, keyboards, accordion, harp, bodhrán
Brian Hughes: Balalaika, electric and acoustic guitar (“All Souls Night”, “Bonny Portmore”, “Between The Shadows”, “The Lady Of Shalott”, “Greensleeves”, “Tango To Evora”, “Courtyard Lullaby”, “The Old Ways”)
Al Cross: Drums (“All Souls Night”, “Bonny Portmore”, “Between The Shadows”)
George Koller: Bass, cello, mad fiddle, tamboura, sitar (“All Souls Night”, “Bonny Portmore”, “Between The Shadows”, “Greensleeves”, “Cymbeline”)
Anne Bourne: cello (“Bonny Portmore”, “The Lady Of Shalott”, “Courtyard Lullaby”)
Tom Hazlett: Bass (“Bonny Portmore”, “The Lady Of Shalott”, “Tango To Evora”, “Courtyard Lullaby”, “The Old Ways”)
Patrick Hutchinson: Uillean pipes (“Bonny Portmore”, “The Old Ways”)
Hugh Marsh: Fiddle (“Between The Shadows”, “The Lady Of Shalott”, “Tango To Evora”, “The Old Ways”)
Rick Lazar: (“Between The Shadows”, “Tango To Evora”)