In the context of contemporary music, whether in the realms of Pop or Rock, the works of Blackmore’s Night are definitely a rarity. They are some of the best that the world music archive could ever offer.
Formed in 1997, Blackmore’s Night consists primarily of Ritchie Blackmore (acoustic guitar, mandolin, hurdy gurdy, nyckelharpe, electric guitar) and Candice Night (lead vocals, woodwinds), plus a collective of various instrumentalists. Bonded by their love for Renaissance music, the couple have released 10 studio albums–from 1997’s Shadow of the Moon to 2015’s All Our Yesterdays––and a new one is slated to come out on March 12, 2021, via earMusic.
Blackmore’s Night’s 11th opus, titled Nature’s Light, continues the duo’s indulgence in spine-tingling medieval Folk, a sound that conjures grasslands, steppes, bonfires, ales, knights, elves, and lore. It opens straightaway with its lead single–the moonlit, jaunty “Once Upon December,” which is perfect for a barnyard gathering of likeminded free spirits. Following next in similar mood, albeit slightly more graceful, is the equally melodic “Four Winds.”
Time to pass the mugs of ale and roasted marshmallows as the melodrama of “Feather in the Wind” lingers with the evening breeze. The night then gets serious and somber as Blackmore’s Night delivers something initially haunting and ethereal–the slow, organ-drenched and string-orchestrated instrumental ballad, and almost dirge, “Darker Shade of Black,” which then transitions into an anthemic and subtly metallic epic.
The benevolent revelers then rest their backs momentarily against the cushion trees as the ember burns steadily and the minstrels play the waltz “The Twisted Oak.” Blackmore’s Night then treat their audience to the highlight of the revelry–the storytelling part in the form of the grand aural mélange of the title-track, as if welcoming the arrival of something royal and high.
Obviously paying homage to his Deep Purple and Rainbow roots, Blackmore, and Night with the rest of their troubadours, then launches into “Der-letzte-Muzketier [The Last Musketeer]”–an electric-guitar-driven mix of Blues, Classical, and Folk. Blackmore’s Night then rouse their now relaxing merrymakers with an electrifying song of longing, “Wish You Were Here.”
An apt track to place near the end of the album, “Going to the Faire” is a song of journey and adventures, amidst a symphony of stringed instruments and a festival of flower-haired pilgrims. Finally, Blackmore’s Night wrap up their caravan of delight with the midtempo stomper “Second Element,” where Blackmore’s guitar virtuosity and Night’s powerful, rustic voice shine through till the end.
In this time and age of danceable Pop and aggressive Rock–which, in fairness, are equally engaging works of sonic art–Blackmore’s Night’s compelling new addition to their oeuvre is truly indispensable. It is ready to satiate both the intellect and the spirits, and so Cryptic Rock gives Nature’s Light 5 out of 5 stars.