8/8/2008 - Review by: Raising Iron
Our favorite prolific purple minstrel and his lovely partner have returned, taking us on another beautiful journey back to the days of fireside sing-along's, choral tavern tapestries, and other medieval traditions. Hard to believe, but "Secret Voyage" is Blackmore's Night's seventh studio since their first release, "Shadows of the Moon", back in ‘98 (including their 2006 Christmas album: Winter Carols).
Ritchie continues to mine his vast quarry of feudal melodies, and "Secret Voyage" shows no signs of the supply of riches drying up. Candice's vocals continue in top form, her beautiful tones carrying each and every refrain to all corners of the inn in which they reside. The song selection is absolutely wonderful this time out, offering a greater variety than found on their last outing, "The Village Lanterne", which languished and meandered in more of an insistent "new age" territory. This is a nice return to the varied stylings found on "Ghost of a Rose" and "Fires at Midnight". There's the instrumental opener, "God Save the Keg" (love that title!) which carries into the upbeat melodic rocker "Locked Within the Crystal Ball", Ritchie recalling his hard rock past with wonderful electric guitar soloing. "Toast to Tomorrow" is a middle-aged tavern sing-along that catches you be the seat of your tankard, tipping and dripping it while the chorus spills into the damp night air, leaving you smiling and content to be with good friends. There's also a re-working of "Rainbow Eyes" from Rainbow's "Long Live Rock ‘n' Roll", which is *gasp* better than the original?! The Elvis hit, "Can't Help Falling in Love" is also covered, a questionable choice to say the least, but they've spun it into an upbeat, medieval dance, this being the best version of the song these ears have ever witnessed, making it at least passable. Elsewhere, there's pleasant, quiet, introspective tales via "Sister Gypsy" and "Peasant's Promise", where Candice's sweet timbre carries the song, instruments minimal and spaced.
As was posed earlier, there isn't a lot of that "new age" feel to this one, as it sits closer to their roots and earlier musings, with a few bits of "world music" thrown in here and there. There really isn't anything ground-breaking here, the band giving us what we expect from them, nothing more, and nothing less. Ritchie and Candice continue to delve deep into the traditional, medieval, and classical styling they know and love so well, offering up another platter of beautiful and unique music, something that very few others have been able to accomplish at this level. So, invite over some friends, put a log on the fire, tap the keg, and take a "Secret Voyage" to an earlier time.
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