Review Summary: One of the best samples of modern Renaissance music.
Blackmore’s Night is synonymous with contemporary medieval music mixed with some folk/rock elements. They were formed in 1997, after Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night discovered that they both shared a passion for Renaissance music. Night is the band’s main vocalist, while Blackmore creates the soundscapes on which Night shines, mainly with his brilliant acoustic guitar playing.
Blackmore’s Night debut Shadow of the Moon
is a vocal-oriented album that contains many traditional tracks from the Renaissance era. Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull also makes a guest appearance playing the flute on “Play Minstrel Play”. Their sophomore release Under a Violet Moon
maintained the same musical style; however, they increased the number of musical instruments used. In order to achieve a “pure” Renaissance-like sound they used Renaissance drums, flugelhorn and hurdy gurdy on top of their other unique instruments such as mandolin, tambourine, pennywhistle etc. Blackmore displays excellent instrument handling since he alone plays the acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, bass, Renaissance drums and tambourine.
The name of the album Under a Violet Moon
was inspired from the name of Blackmore’s mother “Violet” and the surname of his grandmother “Moon”. The album contains many traditional tracks, one of the most interesting characteristics being “Past Time with Good Company”, which was traditional by King Henry the 8th, also known as the “King’s Ballad”, the fairytale-like “Avalon” and the up-tempo “Spanish Nights”. Furthermore, there are a few instrumental songs on this album, such as the atmospheric “Possum Goes to Prague” and the nostalgic “Beyond the Sunset” which gives Blackmore an opportunity to display his magnificent acoustic guitar skills. The exceptional title track is a medieval-inspired story-telling song and there are also a handful of melancholic ballads, like “Catherine Howard’s Fate” which recites the story of Henry the 8th’s fifth wife, who was ultimately beheaded. One of Blackmore’s Night best known songs, characteristic of their early work and possibly one of their best, is the “Morning Star”, a medieval, heartwarming track with violin elements, remarkable guitar playing and captivating vocals. Also, a more melodic, acoustic version of “Self portrait”, a song from Rainbow’s first album, is also included on this album.
Its only drawback is its duration since it lasts approximately an hour and someone may feel that it contains some filler. Nonetheless, if you are into medieval folk/rock, that would not be a disadvantage at all.
All things considered, despite the fact that there are many different types of songs performed using a wide variety of musical instruments, they are all blended in very well together and with Night’s enchanting vocals and Blackmore’s outstanding musicianship, the overall outcome is a balanced, harmonic and generally uplifting album.