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Blackmore's Night

To the Moon and Back - 20 Years and Beyond

Review by Gary Hill

This new collection from Blackmore's Night continues their tradition of classy music. Their sound is often based on folk music, but there is enough classical and other things built here that it fits under progressive rock. I have previously reviewed one of the songs on this set, and for the sake of consistency included the review of that track here. This clearly makes for a great introduction to this band, but includes enough variants to make it worthwhile for longtime fans.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD 1
  
Shadow of the Moon

I like the Celtic elements on this. There are other world music aspects built into it. It has a folk prog kind of vibe. The vocals are really one of the big selling points, but you can't overlook the acoustic guitar stylings either. Overall this just works really well. The arrangement here gets particularly powerful as the piece draws toward its closing.

Spirit of the Sea
More of a delicate and intricate number, this is so beautiful. Again folk merges with a prog type sensibility here.
Renaissance Faire
Much more of a pure old world sound dominates this cut. It is folk music based and quite pretty. Yet it feels oddly accessible. This is a pretty and effective piece of music.
Play Minstrel Play
This is so pretty and so powerful. I like the arrangement of the backing vocals. It adds a lot to the magic of the piece. This is another that lands pretty fully under the old world folk category. The fast paced double time movement later is a great move.
Under a Violet Moon
This lives in similar places as the last number, but with a bit more of a modern sound added to the mix. It's energetic, particularly when it gets an infusion of "oomph" later, and yet quite pretty. I love the acoustic guitar soloing on this. The whole piece just works so well, though. The strings add a lot to it. I really like the organ solo later in the piece. It brings an intriguing classical edge to this.
Spanish Nights (I Remember It Well)

Blackmore's acoustic guitar intricacies start this cut in style, working out into some Spanish guitar sounds. Of course, given the title, what else would you expect. That guitar unaccompanied holds the piece for nearly a minute. Then the rest of the group join and we're out into a world music inspired folk prog jam that's just so cool. This is fast paced and just so tasty. It has some intriguing changes.

Fires at Midnight
Not as bombastic for the first half, this is just as intricate and powerful as the previous cut. The folk music elements are perhaps more prominent on that section, but it's less world music based, though. The first powered up section brings more oomph and more Celtic textures.  They turn it into some harder rocking stuff later and Blackmore gets some electric guitar soloing in style. This is purely prog rock really. It's a highlight of the set.
Ghost of a Rose
I love the particularly intricate opening instrumental section. This has plenty of folk prog built into it. It's more of ballad. The symphonic instrumentation brings something special to the table.
Cartouche
The world music elements that drive this are all class. This gets incredibly powerful and very proggy as it builds outward later.
Village Lanterne
Atmospheric textures open this. Blackmore's acoustic guitar creates melodies over the top of that. The piece builds out from there. It gets symphonic and bombastic further down the road.
The Circle
This piece does a nice job of marrying old world music with modern rock ballad structures. It’s performed mostly with acoustic instrumentation and is extremely potent. We get some symphonic segments later in the track with Eastern musical motifs. I’m almost reminded of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” there.
25 Years
There is a lot of folk music here. It's often Celtic based. That said, it's not pure folk, but more folk rock. There are a couple full on prog-rock instrumental sections, too. This is another strong cut on a disc that's full of strong material.
Dandelion Wine
A cut that's more of a pure folk mode, this is pretty and entertaining. It has some bits of Celtic sound in the mix.
Home Again (Live)
A bouncy kind of folk rock tune, this is cool stuff. It's a lot of fun. It has a nice balance between the more energized and mellower. You can tell that they are having a good time with this song in concert. They take it out into a bit of "Havi Nagila" at one point. Then they work into some polka from there with male vocals. The medley continues from there with more party music.
CD 2
           
I Surrender (Bonus Track)

This cut is a big change. It's more of a mainstream pop rocker. It feels a bit like some kind of 80s rock. Of course, this song was originally done in Blackmore's Rainbow days. There is a bit of that sound throughout the tune, but the guitar solo section really brings that home.

Moonlight Shadow (2017 Version)
This mellower tune has a lot of folk music built into it.
Somewhere over the Sea (2017 Version)
Symphonic strings begin this cut. Acoustic guitar rises up from there as they move forward. This is another with a lot of mellow folk music in the mix. They build it out into the more prog rock side of things as they work forward. Blackmore gets to lay down some particularly tasty guitar soloing.
Writing on the Wall (2017 Version)
Here we get a rocking tune. It's perhaps a bit like Rainbow, but more mainstream pop rock. The guitar soloing is noteworthy, but then again, it is Blackmore, so what do you expect?
Coming Home (2017 Version)
Intricate acoustic Celtic sounds create the opening of this instrumental piece. They work out from there in similar fashion, but with more instruments added. This is bouncy and fun and reminds me of something Tempest would do.
Ghost of John (Bonus Track)
More of the folk prog variety, this is energized and rocks really well. It's a strong tune. There is a dropped section at the end with a child singing. That child is none other than Blackmore and Night's daughter Autumn Blackmore.
Minstrel Hall
Blackmore shows off his acoustic guitar skills on this intricate and beautiful instrumental.
Possum Goes to Prague
This is an amazing acoustic guitar solo from Blackmore.
Durch den Wald zum Bach Haus
This instrumental has a lot of classical music packed into it. It's quite pretty and rather involved.
Nur eine Minute
Classical music is the basis of this instrumental that is so classy.
Village Dance
More intricate classically based instrumental work is on-line here. This is so pretty and powerful.
Land of Hope and Glory (2017 Version)
Another instrumental, this has more of that folk prog sound. I recognize the melodies on this one for sure as they are from Elgar. Blackmore gets plenty of opportunity to solo here. There are vocals on this one, but they are non-lyrical.

 

 
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