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"In which I immediately curse my decision to go in chronological order instead of the order I listened to them"

I am embarrassed to say there was a period where I forgot this existed. It was actually the last one I discovered as a teenager, and for a long while it was my least favorite because it's all covers and mostly of more "folk" songs rather than the magic/mystical sound of her later work. Recently, though, I have come to really appreciate its lightness, relative simplicity and classic content.

Elemental

I have used an asterisk * to denote my particular favorites/CD highlights.

* Blacksmith: Best way to kick off a CD. High energy, fast pace and some really cool articulation and/or harmonies ("strange news has come to town," "I wish them both much joy," "may God reward you well for the slighting of me," "so bring your witness, love, and I'll not deny you," to name a few) and wildly catchy melody make for an addictive song.

She Moved Through the Fair: I so hate to be negative right off the bat, but this is the one song I usually skip. She has a beautiful voice that works well a capella, but I've just never liked this song much -- too slow. Josh Groban couldn't save it with his cover, either.

* Stolen Child: Now this? This is AMAZING. The poem is gorgeous all on its own, but the added sound effects of the muffled barking and the musical chimes and dings that somehow sound like fairies twinkling and darting to and fro, I can actually see a foggy woods at dusk unfold before my eyes. Her voice is just perfectly haunting, too. My words cannot even begin to do justice to the delicate beauty of this masterpiece.

Lark in the Clear Aire: Brief, calm and peaceful instrumental, lots of low strings + a pleasant harp feature.

Carrighfergus: It's an okay song, saved mostly by the high-pitched beauty of her backing vocals, but it's very jarring to abruptly have a male voice take over. Excuse you, this is a realm for one magical woman only.

* Kellswater: Bright in tone, sadder in lyrics that zero in on a maiden mourning the absence of her Not Dad Approved love.

Banks of Claudy: sounds...strangely similar to what would happen in the above scenario if the seafaring lad came home (and wanted to test her fidelity by disguising himself). Slower and much higher in pitch, but very pretty.

Come by the Hills: It's like a travel brochure in song form enticing you to come to Scotland (Ireland?). I love it, though. No angst, pure happiness and contentment. "And cares of tomorrow must wait 'til this day is done..."

* Lullaby: Another song that makes me think of fairies, with the soothing, echoing "loo, loo-loo loo" chant. (And then a dude interrupts for A Dramatic Reading Of William Blake, speaking about war and everlasting fire, just like all your childhood sleepytime faves.)

P.S. It is bad form to toot your own horn, but I have to say that my cackling delight in rediscovering that last sentence was my main impetus to officially publish this post series.

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