Loreena McKennitt
The Road Back Home


3.8
excellent

Review

by DadKungFu STAFF
March 14th, 2024 | 14 replies


Release Date: 03/08/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A clouded dream on an earthly night

Technically a live album (her seventh, no less, and her second in two years), The Road Back Home sees Lorena Mckennitt as strong as she’s ever been as a live performer, and just as committed to the fuzzy-edged celtic nostalgia she’s been plying for her whole career. The new-age project of ativan-dripping the listener in a cocoon of tranquility and nostalgia, is as integral here as in any other new-age album, but here the live setting, and the rich talent of Mckennitt herself, make this a fair tilt more substantial than the typical celtic new-age. The mastery of her backing band, coupled with a nuanced and emotive vocal delivery, creates a sonic landscape that may be more enchanting than authentic, but which piles talent onto charm to, in the end, carry no end of critical weight.

Quite simply, this is a cozy, warm, atmospheric comfort listen, one that doesn’t so much dip and peak as coast along content in its quiet confidence and homespun loveliness. Mckennitt’s the kind of Celtic new-age veteran that had Riverdance practically reeking from every granola-mom’s tv set in the 90s, and here she’s no less at home in a live setting than she is with all the Mists of Avalon atmospherics of her best-known works. The best decision I could have made on that rainy day when the kids weren’t quite recovered enough from their stomach bugs to be sent back to school, but were well enough to complain of being bored was to put on this album, break out the watercolors and let their imaginations do the rest of the work. It’s an album that is as comfortable as it is fantastical, which plays entirely to Mckennitt’s strengths.

Furthermore, the live aspect of the album adds an extra layer of spontaneity and vitality to McKennitt's performance that her studio albums often don’t touch. The subtle nuances of her vocals weaving with the loom of the instrumental interplay, and the palpable energy of the audience all serve to capture an essence that’s far more intimate, and down-to-earth than her studio output might indicate. It speaks to McKennitt's prowess as a performer that she can effortlessly command the stage with such grace and poise, captivating audiences with every chord and lyric. Not that the album isn’t still steeped in new-age atmosphere. On most of these tracks you can practically smell the stage-mist, and the instrumentation is pristine and dreamy enough that the audience response often feels like the main element keeping this from drifting off into a wispy Cottingley fairyland. It’s a fine line to balance, that patchouli-tinged celtic kitsch as a thing of lovely sentimentality, or of bogged-up cheese, and its a line that Mckennitt has been adept at walking for decades.

In The Road Back Home listeners find themselves immersed in a misty Celtic fantasy world, where ancient tales and timeless melodies intertwine elegantly. It's a mood that speaks of folk music as a place where the soul finds solace, where the often grubby realities of the working class experience, perhaps the truer folk experience are smoothed and cast into an idealized form. In stark contrast, the haunting realism of Lankum casts a different spell altogether. Where their music acts as a looming, ghostly post-industrial monolith, drenched in all that’s raw and unyielding in the human experience, Mckennitt chooses a dreamworld that is no less true to its roots, and perhaps reveals a side to them that is just as valid, if not as forward-thinking. Yet, despite their disparate approaches, the common thread in both McKennitt and Lankum speaks to two disparate approaches to their commitment to preserving and celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Ireland. And in the warp and weft of Irish folk, the voices of these two artists echo to each other from across the gulfs of their individual approaches. If the one travels farther and is, in the end, far truer to its roots and more clear sighted than what’s found here, that doesn’t imply that there isn’t ample value to be found.



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user ratings (9)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2024


4878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Hello, I feel as though I am qualified for this CFO position at your Fortune 500 company thanks to my extensive experience as a staff writer at acclaimed music criticism website sputnikmusic.com. I would like to set up an interview at your earliest convenience.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2024


5911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

When can you start?

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2024


4878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Right away boyo.



Also yes Lankum is now the yardstick against which all Irish folk is to be compared so saith I

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2024


21170 Comments


Heyyy, glad someone got to this! I was thinking of putting out a writeup for this one earlier, but eventually passed on it

Great review too :] Loreena McKennitt rules

DoofDoof
March 14th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

more great material from the boss, thought this might get underrated here so pleased to see this review/rating combo

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2024


4878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I aim to please I aim to please I

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


32047 Comments


A staff review for Loreena Mckennit. You love to see it. Great write up staffdad. I went in not knowing this was a live album, but I was pleasantly surprised.

DoofDoof
March 15th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If y'all dig this and then don't listen to the new Sam Lee record then something has gone wrong I tell you.



Check it: https://www.sputnikmusic.com/soundoff.php?albumid=488804

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


32047 Comments


I'll give it a shot!

DoofDoof
March 15th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hope you dig, it might be too much of the same - first two tracks are very very good though

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2024


4878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

shades of Bert Jansch on that track Doof very nice

Dedes
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2024


10031 Comments


Loreena is a goddamn angel
Only ever jammed Book of Secrets and uhhh The Mask and the Mirror but I should explore her discog more

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2024


10219 Comments


great artist, great words, great (pos)

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 20th 2024


5911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

There's something really likable about this album, it keeps drawing me back



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