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Picks and Pans Review: The Book of Secrets

updated 01/12/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/12/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Loreena McKennitt

She was raised on a farm in central Canada, but the music on her seventh album seems culled from the very bones of antiquity. When singer-songwriter Loreena McKennitt sings of a seventh-century Irish monk and a pair of doomed lovers, her voice, a seductive weave of sinew and lace, clears the mind of all else. McKennitt spent two years researching the music of ancient Celtic tribes, Middle Eastern Sufi masters and others before heading into the studio. The resulting vocal and instrumental tracks—she also plays keyboards, harp, accordion and kanoon (a Middle Eastern relative of the zither)—evoke lush, exotic landscapes, while her simple melodies pull listeners effortlessly into her world. Prior releases have snared McKennitt two gold records in the U.S. with no major radio exposure. This Book of Secrets deserves to be aired. (Quinlan Road/Warner Bros.)

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