Nights from the Alhambra (Verve Music Group, 2007)
Returning from a nine-year hiatus, Loreena McKennitt has blazed across the music scene once again. Nights from the Alhambra is a 2 CD and DVD set marking her 2006 concerts at the famed Palacio de Carlos V at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Concerts at the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Alhambra Palace are a rare opportunity for any artist, but McKennitt filled the space with her signature voice.
In addition to the opportunity to showcase her new studio album, An Ancient Muse, the concerts were part of the "Great Performances" series on PBS. With a spectacular career spanning some two decades and countless awards, Loreena McKennitt now takes her elegant voice to new heights in the Spanish night.
Offering old favorites like "All Souls Night," "The Bonny Swans" and a kicked up version of "The Mummers’ Dance, " McKennitt delivers the goods with her crystalline vocals against compositions that are as lovely as the night sky. Joining accordionist, harpist and pianist Loreena McKennitt on this musical narrative, a tapestry of the British Isles, ancient Greece and Byzantine and Ottoman Turkey, are Steafan Hannigan on uilleann pipes, composer and violinist Hugo Marsh, oud virtuoso Haig Yazdjian and lyra player Sokratis Sinopoulos. Delving into the Mediterranean sound proves to be a perfect match for McKennitt’s achingly lovely vocals by adding mystery and interesting turns to the traditional Celtic sound.
Lushly orchestrated and elegantly crafted, the journey of Nights from the Alhambra travels across familiar and exotic terrain from the vibrant "The Mystic’s Dream" to the spicy "Santiago." "Marco Polo" and the concert version of "All Souls Night" have been steeped in a striking Middle Eastern sound that soars with an exceptional loveliness. Tracks "She Moved Through the Fair," "Raglan Road" and "Cymbeline" move the listener to the edge of the seat, waiting for McKennit’s next note. "The Old Ways" dazzles in a way so familiar to Loreena McKennitt fans with her soaring vocals against a thickly Celtic sound.
Nights from the Alhambra is stunning. Wallowing in the richly crafty two CDs wasn’t quite enough though for Verve Records. The DVD of the 2006 concerts give audiences worldwide and opportunity to view Loreena McKennitt and her fellow musical travelers in one of Spain’s architectural treasures.
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.