Blackmore's Night,
The Village Lanterne
(Minstrel Hall, 2006)

Anyone who dismisses Blackmore's Night as neo-renaissance fluff just hasn't been paying attention to the music.

Sure, the art, photographs, costumes and settings on The Village Lanterne, as with much of their work, can lead to that conclusion. The subject matter of their songs, too, seems tailored to a plugged-in ren-faire crowd. But, man, just listen for a minute, will you?

Ritchie Blackmore, better known for his work with Deep Purple and Rainbow, is a masterful composer and musician. Candice Night, a delicately beautiful maiden in full skirt and bodice, has a voice to make the angels weep; her vocals have certainly matured, adding just a bit of grit and fire, since Under a Violet Moon, the duo's 1999 release.

This review would have been done much sooner if the CD hadn't become a semi-permanent fixture in my car stereo's rotation. The melodies here are infectious, and those tunes -- coupled with Night's voice -- seem to echo in my head long after I've turned off the music -- in particular, "World of Stone" and "25 Years." Night demonstrates a bit more edge with "I Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore," a driving ghost story. She also remakes Blackmore's classic "Street of Dreams," once as lead vocalist and once (a bonus track) joining with original singer Joe Lynn Turner.

As is usual for the band, the music combines an artful minstrel flair with a rock-solid infrastructure. So you're going to hear an electric guitar and hurdy gurdy, shawm and bagpipe, recorder and drums. Some of Blackmore's fingerwork will make you ache for that kind of musical talent and dexterity.

by Tom Knapp
7 April 2007

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