Review Summary: "Wish you were here/Me, oh, my country man/Wish you were here."
Blackmore's Night is back with their eleventh studio LP (their first in six years), and I, for one, am glad to hear from them. Ritchie Blackmore, of course, is a rock guitar legend, best known for his days with Deep Purple and Blackmore's Rainbow. For the last almost-quarter of a century, though, he and his wife Candice Night, have been making folk and Renaissance music together, and have established an audience of their own throughout the world, particularly in Germany and Japan. They recorded Nature's Light
in 2019 for a planned release in April of 2020. Then COVID happened, and, well, you know how that goes. In any event, the album has finally been released by Edel Records, the German label that released their first two LPs back in the late 1990s. So I guess things have come full circle.
My overall impression is that yes, this is definitely a Blackmore's Night album. Which is to say that if you liked the first ten Blackmore's Night LPs, you're going to like this one as well. They're not really breaking any new ground here, which I guess isn't surprising, given that Blackmore is now 75 years old. (Candice is considerably younger.) And I wouldn't say this is one of the band's very best albums. Nevertheless, Nature's Light
is a solid effort, and one that I find has grown on me the more I've listened to it.
Blackmore and Night seem to have played most of the instruments between them here, with Ritchie handling the various stringed apparatuses, Night playing the woodwinds and tambourine, and David Baranowski (aka Bard David of Larchmont) adding the keyboards. Night, as always, sang all of the lead vocals, and some of the harmonies as well, with other backing vocals contributed by Bard David and Blackmore and Night's two children, Autumn and Rory Blackmore.
The songs on this LP provide a nice mix of styles. The title track is something of a royal processional theme, while other tracks mix folk and folk rock, blues rock, medieval and renaissance folk, and even Slavic-sounding folk. There are two (basically) instrumental tracks: "Darker Shade of Black" (which sounds like a tribute to Procol Harum's "Repent Walpurgis"), and "Der Ietzke Muskatier", a more blues-oriented track. These are the two songs where Blackmore cuts loose a bit with some electric guitar. There are also two covers: "Second Element", which is a cover of a song that Sarah Brightman recorded on her 1993 Dive
album; and "Wish You Were Here", a cover of a track by Swedish pop country band Rednex that Blackmore's Night first recorded on their initial LP, 1997's Shadow of the Moon
. ("Wish You Were Here" has become one of the most beloved and requested songs over the years at their live shows).
As usual, Night's vocals are impeccable throughout -- I can really never say enough about how beautiful and pure her voice is. (And having seen her live many times over the years, I can promise you it doesn't sound that way because of studio trickery. Her voice is just as lovely and consistent in concert.)
So, like an old friend, Blackmore's Night is back. And to me, it feels like they've never really been away.