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Elemental
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  • Loreena McKennitt recorded her 1985 debut on a farm in southern Ontario, a pastoral setting that infuses every note on Elemental with atmosphere and rustic simplicity. What's immediately striking is the Canadian harpist's fully realized voice. Most artists take years to hone their pipes, and that McKennitt brings a nearly finished version to the table on her first outing is not only notable, it's revelatory. McKennitt presents an evenly distributed mix of new age and contemporary Celtic that evokes the work of Enya, Clannad, and Capercaille, adapting the words of Yeats ("Stolen Child") and Blake ("Lullaby") as effortlessly as she rearranges traditional folk songs like "The Blacksmith" or "Banks of Claudy." Elemental may not have the worldbeat scope or acrobatic arrangements inherent in her later works, but its epic balladry and relative sparseness offers an intriguing look at the artist at her most subtle. ~ James Christopher Monger
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