Loreena McKennitt’s New Album:”The Wind that Shakes the Barley”

Whenever I want to relax, or if I’m feeling a touch homesick (she may be from Manitoba, but her music will always remind me of the Pacific Northwest), I reach for Loreena McKennitt’s music. Her voice has such a natural beauty and I find it incredibly soothing and familiar – probably because I’ve listened to all of her CD’s a thousand times! There are so many childhood memories I have that are inextricably tied to her music.

There’s something about Autumn that especially reminds me of McKennitt’s music. I can vividly recall listening to The Mask and the Mirror with my mom and sister as we drove to local haunts like Lattin’s Country Cider Mill in Olympia, Washington (Lattin’s is an amazing farm and cider mill in Olympia, and if you are ever in the area, you have to go! They make the best apple cider in the world, something I’m sure my husband never tires of hearing – but seriously, they make amazing cider, and it’s one of the places I cannot wait to take my daughter). I still remember how McKennitt’s music made dark and rainy drives through the back-roads of Western Washington seem romantic and exciting. A trip to the Yelm movie theater was almost like an Arthurian quest! These days, I also find that her albums work perfectly as my “not quite Christmas” music. I’m a Christmas music fanatic, but the Nutcracker in September/October is pushing it – even for me – and I find albums like McKennitt’s To Drive the Cold Winter Away result in a few less raised eyebrows.

Loreena McKennitt is releasing a new album of traditional Celtic folksongs this fall entitled The Wind that Shakes the Barley. The CD will be released in Europe on November 12 and will be available in Canada and the United States on CD, iTunes and vinyl on November 16. You can listen to a preview of the CD on her website, Quinlan Road.

Loreena McKennitt has not released an all-new (non-compilation) album since An Ancient Muse, back in 2006 (which was a great album, by the way). And while I’ve enjoyed the compilation albums, it’s great to hear her arrange some new songs.  Her latest album will be a collection of traditional Celtic songs. Commenting on her choice of traditional music for the new album, McKennitt has said that “every once and again there is a pull to return to one’s own roots or beginnings, with the perspective of time and experience, to feel the familiar things you once loved and love still.” I haven’t heard the full album, but from the preview available on her website, the music sounds lovely. In my opinion, McKennitt’s real genius is arranging beautiful music in a way that shows off her unique voice at it’s very best (no small feat when you consider that her vocal career spans over 25 years), and this album is no exception. I can’t wait to share this one with my daughter!