Style: Celtic, New Age, Harp Fusion.
Similar Artists: Anam, Rose Among Thorns, Spiral Dance
Recording Year: Quinlan Road, 1987.
The daughter of a nurse mother and a livestock trader father, songstress Loreena McKennitt studied classical piano and vocal training and learned to dance in the highland style as a youngster. Her love of traditional music was strengthened in the folk clubs of Winnipeg, which she frequented during the brief period she studied veterinary science at the University of Manitoba. Relocating to Stratford, Ontario, she continued to sharpen her skills as a composer and performer. In 1981, she auditioned for a role in the city's Stratford Festival of Canada. Although she did not get the role, she remained inspired. After reading Diane Sward Rapaport's book How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording, she formed her own label, Quinlan Road.
Recorded in various halls and abbeys in Ireland, and completed in the Church of Our Lady in Guelph, Ontario, harpist/arranger/vocalist Loreena McKennitt's first foray into the crowded field of holiday music -- she would go on to release an EP called Winter Garden in 1995 -- is steeped in old-world atmosphere. To Drive the Cold Winter Away celebrates the winter solstice through eight traditional English, Scottish, and Irish carols and ballads and two Mckennitt originals. The artist's reverence for her source material is moving, and her meticulous yet simple arrangements help tracks such as "The Wexford Carol," "The Kings," and "Let Us the Infant Greet" resonate with all of the grace and piousness that the lyrics and poems strive for. McKennitt has succeeded in making a beautiful, haunting, and ambitious yuletide song cycle that despite taking itself a little too seriously, ranks among her finest.
Fields Of Haze... Underground for all.