As I mentioned at the beginning, this was the first one I fell in love with. Comparing it to others now, it feels a bit more serious and like a celebration of very old, old England, including before it was England. Tennyson is the most modern inspiration on the CD. The closest after that: Shakespeare.
Most recently, this album reestablished itself as a favorite when we listened to it on loop during a day trip to southern Minnesota with about 3 hours of driving, so now I think of it as backdrop to scenic highway roads.
* denotes a CD highlight
* All Souls Night: No Halloween season is complete without this. Not that it's scary or spooky in any way, I just like the "bonfires dot the rolling hillside / figures dance around and around" imagery, in the spirit of getting back to the holiday's roots. It's one of her catchiest and most memorable songs, I think.
Bonny Portmore (or, "ode to a massive felled tree"): I always want to skip it, knowing it's slow, but every time it starts I find the music draws me in, and then her voice hits just the right note of mournfulness and crystal clarity that makes me want to hear what she (or the narrator she's giving voice) has to say. And, obviously, I can get behind regretting losing a historic landmark. Especially a natural one.
Between the Shadows (Persian Shadows): An instrumental with Middle Eastern elements, as the name implies. I like it, thanks to its active tempo, I can just never tell the Middle Eastern instrumentals apart by name until I hear them.
* The Lady of Shalott: This song is no longer my favorite of all time, but it's ultimately the reason I love her so much, and I'm so grateful she introduced me to the lovely and tragic title character (and a little, begrudgingly, grateful to my teacher for making me think beneath the surface of the words). I can't remember if I fell in love with the poem or because her voice made it come so instantly alive, but either way, it has some of the most beautiful imagery.
Bonus: my familiarity with the character allowed me to immediately appreciate CK of Shadows' awesomely punny name.
Greensleeves: Probably the prettiest rendition of this song, but one that I've grown a bit bored of, to the point where it's one of the only 2-4 I don't enjoy across the 5 CDs.
Tango to Evora: An instrumental, but you can conveniently match the words "tango to Evora" to the melody (assuming those were the only lyrics), which is cool.
Courtyard Lullaby: I have a tendency to get this mixed up with Cymbeline, except that it's in a lower register and not Shakespeare. Let's see if including lyrics will help keep me on track: And when the wind draws strong / Across the cypress trees / The nightbirds cease their songs / so gathers memories.
* The Old Ways: "The old ways are lost / you sang as you flew / and I wondered why" has been one of my favorite lyrics since high school. It reminds me of losing things that used to be familiar. (which for me was pretty much a metaphor for growing up) I also love the driving melody with excellent use of fiddle. One of my favorite songs across her whole body of work.
Cymbeline: I love this title -- I have always wanted to name a black mare this. It took me a long time to warm up to the actual music, but now I find it very haunting. "As chimney sweepers come to dust," indeed.
You know, in retrospect...basically all of these titles would be awesome horse names. And may have been, in my sim horse club days. P. sure I made Tango to Evora a chestnut Arabian.