Stories » Loreena McKennitt marks a pointed return back to the traditional Irish and Scottish music on: The Wind That Shakes The Barley

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Loreena McKennitt marks a pointed return back to the traditional Irish and Scottish music on: The Wind That Shakes The Barley

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With a recording career spanning more than two decades and over 14 million albums sold worldwide, Canadian artist Loreena McKennitt continues to explore the many aspects of traditional Celtic music with the release of her forthcoming album, The Wind That Shakes The Barley. Due November 16 on Verve, the album marks a pointed return to the traditional Irish and Scottish music that began McKennitt's career, revisiting the age-old music of Elemental, her 1985 debut.

"This has been a somewhat spontaneous project," says McKennitt, "and it was one that I wanted to accomplish close to home. I was inpsired and encouraged by many of my friends and fans who asked that I record traditional material once again." She continues, "In another sense, it has been like ‘touching the stone' going back to the roots of my intial infatuation with Celtic music which inspired my musical travel writing of recent years. And I must say it feels wonderful to return to my musical roots."

Mixing familiar classics with lesser-known traditional songs, The Wind That Shakes The Barley includes songs such as as "Down by the Sally Gardens," "The Star of the County Down" and "The Parting Glass," as well as "The Death of Queen Jane" and "As I Roved Out." There are two instrumental tracks, including the McKennitt original "The Emigration Tunes (From Cobh to Gros Ile)," referring to Irish-Canadian history during the famine of the 1840s.

Recorded this past summer at the Temple of the Children of Peace in a handcrafted wooden building north of Toronto, The Wind That Shakes The Barleyfeatures some of McKennitt's longtime musical companions, including violinist Hugh Marsh, guitarist Brian Huges, cellist Caroline Lavelle and percussionist/hurdy-gurdy player Ben Grossman. The album was engineered by Jeff Wolpert, with whom McKennitt has worked on numerous other live recording projects, including Live in Paris and Toronto, Nights from the Alhambra and A Mediterranean Odyssey.

"It was pleasing to record our music in a place that is so historically and architecturally rich," McKennitt explains. "There is a fascinating interplay between architecture and sound; visually and sonically, the Temple inspired us all." She adds, "It was also very pleasing to be able to step out into a natural area surrounded by trees and the sounds of cicadas by day, and crickets, robins and sparrows at night, attracted either by the ambient light of the music. For me, there seems to be a crucial link between close access to the natural world and the inspiration needed for creative processes."

Over the course of her career, McKennitt has won worldwide acclaim and gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards in 15 countries across four continents. She has won numerous awards including the Billboard International Achievement Award, two Juno Awards for Best Roots/Traditional Album and a Grammy® nomination for her 2006 album An Ancient Muse. She has performed for audiences around the world, including such dignitaries as HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in honor of The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.