As anyone who knows me or my forthcoming novel Blackthorne Faire can tell you, I have a fondness for Renaissance festivals and the music you’ll find there that borders on the fanatical. I also have a love for Celtic, folk, and, of course, good old rock. For that reason, I was thrilled to discover Blackmore’s Night a few years back. Blackmore’s Night was born when Richie Blackmore (of Deep Purple fame) met Candice Night, and discovered their shared love of Renaissance music.
What you’ll hear on their latest album, Secret Voyage, isn’t exactly (or at least not entirely) Renaissance music—not even the kind you’ll hear at your local Ren fair. Instead, think of it as being invited to a cast party thrown by one of the best Ren fair bands you’ve ever heard. They’ll do some of the music from the fair, some originals, and even some old favorites. The point isn’t authenticity or thematic purity, it’s to make sure that everyone has a rollicking good time. Happily, when Secret Voyage is playing, we do.
Once again, Blackmore’s Night takes us on a journey through ancient times to modern. As always, Richie Blackmore’s guitar stylings are energetic and complex while Candice Night’s vocals are utterly bewitching. The merry band of minstrels that accompanies them are solid as always. The album begins with an instrumental, “God Bless the Keg,” opening with a harpsichord solo until other instruments join in, ending with a haunting, deep organ. That leads seamlessly into “Locked Within The Crystal Ball,” a song that echoes the darkest, most romantic fairy tales—with a beat that’s somewhere between fast Celtic folk and driving rock. Those two cuts provide a very strong opening.
The rest of the album is just as solid. Special favorites include the merry but wistful “Toast to Tomorrow,” the Renaissance-flavored “Peasant’s Promise” and “The Circle,” and the utterly charming “Far, Far Away.” There’s even a lively, fast, folkish cover of Elvis’s hit “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” After all, you never know what the band will decide to play with when it’s their party. Just be glad you’re part of the circle and share the fun.
If you’ve heard some of the earlier Blackmore’s Night efforts, like The Village Lantern or Past Times with Good Company, you know what you have to look forward to. The Secret Voyage is neither a step back nor a tremendous leap forward. But like a reunion with dear old friends, that’s not really what you’re looking for here. You’re looking for fun, and a CD that you can listen to again and again … on its own, or as excellent company while driving, reading, or writing. The Secret Voyage is a party I intend to revisit again and again.