Title - 'Secret Voyage' (SPV Records)
Artist - Blackmore's Night
This is definitely another in the long line of fantastic albums from Blackmore's Night. If you are a fan of BN, don't hesitate to buy it! Like all their previous work and, for that matter, any complex and enduring music, it takes a while to grow on you. But that just makes it more of a voyage of discovery as, each time you hear it, you uncover more layers and a greater appreciation of the artistry.
That being said, the melodies of both 'God Save the Keg' and 'Empty Words' are instantly unforgettable! They sound like one of those folk tunes that you've known all your life but just can't place - I certainly can't. I think they used this as the intro number to their 2007 tour. 'God Save the Keg' is richer and more complex, like one of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches, but 'Empty Words' is so haunting and Candice's voice is, as usual, nothing short of angelic.
Fully half of all the songs are shown in the the sleeve notes as "Based on Traditional", with Ritchie continuing his interpretations of renaissance, mediaeval and other folk melodies. Three tracks are covers and three are completely original, so there's something for everyone here.
In general, I absolutely love the covers that this band does; they are usually significant improvements on the originals. My only criticism of this album, which is otherwise superb, is of two of the covers: 'Rainbow Eyes' and 'Can't Help Falling in Love.' I'm afraid I really don't like 'Can't Help Falling in Love' and is probably the only BN track that I skip when I'm listening to the album.
Maybe it'll grow on me, but I doubt it. More controversially, I am ambivalent about 'Rainbow Eyes.' Musically, it stands on its own as a beautiful song, and the reworking is certainly not bad. It just... it's just... well, totally ass about face! Rainbow should have done the upbeat version that's featured on this album and Candice should have been singing the haunting ballad that features on Long Live Rock and Roll!
Anyway, my current favorites are (in no particular order): 'Toast to Tomorrow.' 'The Circle' and 'Empty Words.' I think we'll find that 'The Circle' is going to become a staple of the live concerts. It just begs you to get up and dance and, I think, will be fun for the band to play live. I wish I was seeing them on tour this year, but they're not doing any US dates. [PS]