Monday, August 18, 2008

Blackmore's Night - Secret Voyage

Fans of Deep Purple and Rainbow may have had questions as to the disappearance of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. In 1997, he went into the night... Blackmore's Night and hasn't returned. But what exactly is a return, anyhow, as it seems he's having fun there releasing 6 albums together up to now. Led by singer/songwriter Candice Night, the band have released their seventh disc, Secret Voyage.

Rock, blues and country are an odd lot as they owe a lot to what has come before and even more to cross-pollination. New age music owes a lot to jazz and most music goes back to the days of the traveling minstrel. That is where Blackmore's Night come along and blur some lines between the Renaissance, Greek, rock and pop. The disc begins with a setting provided by the instrumental piece "God Save The Keg." Swept away into expecting much of the same, it is followed by the spellbinding "Locked Within The Crystal Ball." The tantalizing track is a harmonics dynamo built with waves of guitar virtuosity, mesmerizing vocals and a war drum rhythm section keeping the beat. Easy to get dizzy trying to count the instruments used on this outstanding song. It's hard to follow a lead like that but the subdued "Guided Cage" is mystery and beauty wrapped in strings... violin and flamenco. There are moments where you can hear flashes of Kate Bush, Celine Dion and even Sarah Brightman on these tracks. "Rainbow Eyes" is one of those moments and the pairing of this voice and guitar is spectacular. Other strong tracks here include "The Circle," "Sister Gypsy" and "Far And Away." The group does reach another crest with their cover of "Can't Help Falling In Love" (which even out-paces Lick The Tins 1987 version from the Some Kind Of Wonderful soundtrack.) The album closes with the lush "Empty Words" which eerily reconstitutes the refrain used in the album-opener "God Save The Keg."

Secret Voyage is truly a journey into musical forms we don't hear expressed often enough. Some styles do get incorporated into other media forms in light doses but Blackmore's Night has a talent for bringing these themes and sounds from ages past into a context of now. Stellar production and performances here. Secret Voyage is the best kept secret out there... just don't tell them that we spilled the beans.

4 out of 5

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