Aptly, it is an echo of Homer's timeless Odyssey that introduces Loreena McKennitt's seventh studio recording, 2006's An Ancient Muse, a project she describes as "musical travel writing." This time, the journey takes her in search of the Celts' easternmost paths, from the plains of Mongolia to the kingdom of King Midas and the Byzantine Empire. Along the way, she muses on the concepts of home, of travel in all its incarnations, of the cultural intermingling that underpins human history and our universal legacies of conflict and hope.
Recorded at Real World Studios and featuring a host of acclaimed musicians, the album proffers a treasure trove of instruments, from harp, hurdy-gurdy and accordion to oud, lyra, kanoun and nyckelharpa (the Scandinavian keyed fiddle). Highlights include the seductive rhythms and Silk Road influences of lead single "Caravanserai"; "Penelope's Song," a paean to steadfast love; and Loreena's musical setting of Sir Walter Scott's poem of star-crossed romance, "The English Ladye And The Knight." Together, the nine songs that comprise An Ancient Muse conjure up a wide world's worth of human stories that are as unique as they are unforgettable.