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Here is my heart, I give it to you,Take me with you across this land...
—"The Neverending Road"
A clouded dream on an earthly nightAll for the love of you
Hangs upon the crescent moon...
A voiceless song in an ageless light
Sings at the coming dawn
Birds in flight are calling there
Where the heart moves the stones
It's there that my heart is longing
—"The Mystic's Dream"
Loreena McKennitt is a Canadian singer and musician. Her songs have a distinct Celtic and Middle Eastern tone (she's of Scottish descent), but are sometimes described as New Age. Her songs are often ballads, and she's characterized by her high, echoing soprano voice. She found her calling to music after trying to be a veterinarian, and has since then sold more than 13 million copies of her albums. She's often compared to Enya as they both have Celt roots and use Gaelic in their music, but Loreena's music is more inspired by works of literature (most often Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Blake and William Butler Yeats) and is considered to be more grounded. Many of her songs have roots in English or Celtic folk songs, but more recently her music has been inspired by Arabian/Turkish lore.
She currently has 10 albums, including two winter-themed albums:
- Elemental (1985)
- To Drive The Cold Winter Away (1987)
- Parallel Dreams (1989)
- The Visit (1991)
- The Mask And The Mirror (1994)
- A Winter Garden (1995)
- The Book of Secrets (1997)
- An Ancient Muse (2006)
- A Midwinter Night's Dream (2008)
- The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2010)
- Anonymous Band: Averted. While none of her band's members are known to the general public outside of her work, nor do they act as anything more than the background musicians to her Face of the Band, all of their names are always listed and credited in every album, and at concerts she makes an effort to give them all spotlight moments and even introductions at times.
- Arabian Nights Days: A heavy theme in both The Mask and the Mirror and An Ancient Muse.
- Broken Bird: Quite literally in "Bonny Swans," a song inspired by the folk tale "The Twa Sisters."
- Charity Motivation Song: "Breaking the Silence", written for Amnesty International. A bit forced, but Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
- Christmas Songs: To Drive the Cold Winter Away, A Winter Garden, and A Midwinter Night's Dream all have a number of such songs. Three of the five on A Winter Garden are traditional carols ("Coventry Carol", "Good King Wenceslas", and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"), but the entirety of A Midwinter Night's Dream is Christmas music, not merely winter-themed.
- Composite Character: Although nothing in the song suggests it, the music video for "Bonny Swans" strongly implies that the harper who brings the youngest daughter as a harp to her father's hall is also the true love for whom her oldest sister drowned her; the actor and costume for both is the same. This does add a rather powerful resonance to the song's denouement, however.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Justified, since she is a Celtic-inspired musician.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Suggested by her rendition of Yeats' "Stolen Child", which begins and ends with a chorus of barking hunting dogs that have detected the poem's sinister faerie child thieves.
- The Fair Folk: Appearing in, and taking, the titular "Stolen Child".
- Family-Unfriendly Death: In her retelling of the "Bonny Swans", the youngest sister is drowned so her older sister can have her man. She transforms into a swan... which then is turned into a harp.
- Foregone Conclusion: "The Death of Queen Jane".
- Genre Shift: As implied by its title, the "Huron Beltane Fire Dance" starts off as a very tribal, Native American-sounding chant, then shifts into a Celtic-Irish string piece. Lampshaded in her documentary about her musical influences, where the first part accompanies a giant bonfire and the second half is set to Stock Footage of Irish step-dancers.
- Green Aesop: "Bonny Portmore", complete with Reality Subtext. A bit of a Protest Song too.
- Harp of Femininity: The harp is one of her signature instruments along with rare Celtic instruments.
- I Love the Dead: Implied, along with The Lost Lenore, at the end of "Annachie Gordon".
- Lady of Adventure: As she says herself, most of her inspiration comes from her many travels.
- Literary Allusion Title: Aside from the songs which are directly taken from poems that reference literature ("The Lady of Shalott", "Cymbeline", "The Dark Night of the Soul", "The Two Trees", "Prospero's Speech", "The Highwayman", "The English Ladye and the Knight", and more), two songs also have more oblique allusions: "Dante's Prayer" references the fact she was reading the Inferno while riding a train through Siberia and contrasted the text with what she saw out the window; and "Penelope's Song" is written as a lament from Odysseus's wife waiting for him to come home.
- Mood Whiplash: Invoked in "The Death of Queen Jane"--while all the people outside are dancing, singing, and celebrating the birth of the heir, "poor Queen Jane...lay cold as a stone".
- Motifs: Aside from her love of tragic ballads, a thread which begins in The Visit and weaves its way more fully into The Mask and the Mirror is that of the Unicorn. It first appears in "Courtyard Lullaby" (which also references the pomegranate tree, the fruit of which was often depicted in medieval times as the end of a unicorn's tail to represent the fecundity that was the unicorn's opposite), but images from the Unicorn Tapestries are used on the cover and liner sheets from The Mask and the Mirror, and in the music video for "Bonny Swans" both the characters of the song and Loreena herself are shown literally becoming part of the tapestries.
- Notable Original Music: Wrote the soundtrack for the made-for-TV documentary "Goddess Remembered". One song from this, "Ancient Pines", appears on Parallel Dreams.
- Star-Crossed Lovers:
- "The Dark Night of the Soul" sounds like it's all about this -- a girl running off into the middle of the night to meet her lover. It's actually intended to be a spiritual allegory; the lyrics were taken from a poem by St. John of the Cross.
- Played straight in another song, "Annachie Gordon." They even die at the end.
- Recycled Soundtrack/Recycled Trailer Music: "The Mystic's Dream" was used in the soundtrack for The Mists of Avalon; "The Mummers' Dance" appeared in trailers for Ever After.
- Reformed Rake: The female lover of "As I Roved Out" seems to think she can turn her lover into one of these in the final verse, but from his reply she is out of luck.
- Signature Song: Probably "The Mystic's Dream". Or "The Mummers' Dance".
- Spoken Word in Music: "Dickens' Dublin" alternates between lyrics about a poor starving street urchin and a recording of an actual urchin narrating the story of the Nativity.
- Teenage Death Songs: Played with in "Standing Stones". The male lover dies young, but his lady lives on for years, lonely and tragic, before finally dying and joining him.
- Yandere: Apparent in her song "Bonny Swans". See the page for more detail.