Review Summary: Ritchie Blackmore and his wife show off their mutual interests in the form of an hour-long Folk Rock album tipping its hat off to medieval imagery and the Renaissance era. It's not quite as bad as it sounds.
Ritchie Blackmore certainly doesn’t need an introduction, but his latest project, which was co-founded by his wife Candice Night and is fittingly called Blackmore’s Night, will certainly need one. Whereas Blackmore is known the world over for being first and foremost the founder of legendary Rock band Rainbow as well as one of the prominent members of Deep Purple, Candice Night is little more known than his wife and a guest vocalist for Power Metal band Helloween on their song ‘Light the universe’. However, as a band, Blackmore’s Night hasn’t gained as much success as they were perhaps hoping for. Then again, with one listen to their light-hearted, Neo-Classical Folk Rock, it would take some convincing to prove that this Blackmore/Night project was aiming for little more than a display of their mutual interests. It seems that the only reason Blackmore’s Night was ever founded in the first place was the fact that both Blackmore and Night developed a growing interest for medieval imagery and the Renaissance era.
On the band’s debut album, entitled “Shadow of the moon”, it seems that Blackmore and Night do everything humanly possible to show every listener that they have a genuine passion for making medieval style music. There are numerous songs on the album that were originally written by well-known figures in the Renaissance era such as Tielman Susatto (‘The clock ticks on’ and ‘Renaissance Faire’) and Pierre Attaingnant (‘Play minstrel play’ and ‘Magical world’), as well as 19th Century Russian Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (‘Writing on the wall’). There are also numerous guest musicians such as Ian Anderson playing a very quirky-sounding flute on ‘Play minstrel play’, Gerald Flashman providing horn and string arrangements on ‘The clock ticks on’ and even Lady Green harmonizing ‘Minstrel hall’ and ‘Mond Tanz’ (German for ‘Moon Dance’) with her viola and violin.
Of course, some will baulk at the very idea of singing songs about eras from a very, very long time ago, but that’s essentially what Blackmore’s Night is: Light-hearted Folk Rock with soothing vocals courtesy of Candice Night, excellent guitar playing from Ritchie Blackmore and copious amounts of folk instrumentation coursing its way through the album’s medieval veins. The best thing about this album though is the brilliant musical co-operation between Night’s vocal style and Blackmore’s musicianship. Every song on ‘Shadow of the moon’ bar the instrumentals shows just how well this husband-wife musical duo work together, and it really excels at some points, as on the soothing title track and the very sombre yet somewhat enchanting ‘Writing on the wall’. Night’s vocals aren’t particularly significant when being sung on their own but you can tell that the various moods flowing through each song are partly caused by Blackmore’s stylistic musicianship. For the most part however, Blackmore plays acoustic guitar and even though he does use electric guitar at times, these are very rare to hear. They never really come to the forefront and show themselves off, instead just looming in the background of ‘Writing on the wall’ and ‘No second chance’.
The main problem here is probably a divisive one amongst those who prefer the fantastic lyricism and imagery of bands like Blackmore’s Night against those who can’t stand to even listen to the music itself. It’s obvious that songs like ‘Be mine tonight’ and ‘No second chance’ are charged by somewhat cringe-worthy romantic lyrics, and although this still has something in common with the Renaissance era and medieval style imagery, it will definitely put some listeners off the band altogether. Even the instrumental ‘Memmingen’ and the filler material of ‘Magical world’ offers some interest to those who love Blackmore’s musicianship, yet these could easily have been cut from the album to make for a more consistent and cohesive album in general.
If you’ve never heard of Blackmore’s Night it would be advisable to listen to this purely for Ritchie Blackmore’s great musical talent and Candice Night’s sometimes enchanting vocals, but if you really can’t stand folk instrumentation getting in the way of these musical elements, this probably won’t be for you. All in all, ‘Shadow of the moon’ is definitely a worthy addition to any Folk Rock lover’s collection, and perhaps even a recommendation for those who wonder what Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night sound like together.