Loreena McKennitt returns to her Irish roots after much exploration of the world and its music, but The Wind that Shakes the Barley lacks that certain magic that it has recently held. I always felt that since The Book of Secrets, Loreena has produced music that literally held secrets long buried. I felt like I was transported into a majestic, foreign past. This is surely different, but it's still one of the best musical productions you'll ever hear. The quality and effort she puts into her records can surely be a testament that real music still exists. Loreena has created a more traditional Irish sound that she used to in her early records in voice and tune. This is clearly a labor love, and it should be loved by all.
Loreena's version of "As I Roved Out" may even top Kate Rusby's version (and I LOVE Kate Rusby with every cell of my body) with a more traditional sound than usual: a fantastic opening. "The Star of the County Down" is surely more forecful than many of her songs, but it also sounds much like some songs on The Book of Secrets and subsequent albums that raised the quality of her music. It combines her best elements in one song. I've not heard "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" in this tempo before. It was haunting, melancholy, ethereal, and beautiful. It fit the lyrics as well. And what Irish album can't end with "The Parting Glass?" I feel like this is my theme song. I've always wanted to teach it to my friends so we could all sing it around a table while swinging mugs of ale in our hands, but alas, I'm the only fan of folk music. This song is a typical Loreena sound, but it's surely not bad. It's just sadder than usually portrayed, which is also fine. It can be taken as a jolly or dismal.