Loreena McKennitt's fourth release, and first for a major label, is a quietly majestic tapestry of worldbeat and Celtic pop that effortlessly weaves together traditional and contemporary songs into lush showcases for her fluid voice and harp. The multi-talented Canadian utilizes all of her strengths here, resulting in her most rewarding batch of tunes to date. With larger production values and more ambitious arrangements than the sparse Elemental and Parallel Dreams, her flair for the dramatic and the theatrical runs rampant throughout. Whether she's toasting the souls of the departed with Pagan glee on the delicious "All Souls Night," or reinterpreting King Henry VIII's "Greensleeves" through Tom Waits, it's never without both feet in the water. Often when artists attempt to blend modern instruments (keyboards, guitars, etc.) into the traditional folk idiom, the results are instantly dated and horribly overwrought. McKennitt, however, never allows the two to compete, and it's a testament to her belief in the songs themselves that they don't devolve into garish new age drivel. Her adaptation of Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott," which utilizes an opening melody lifted -- probably unknowingly -- from the bagpipe solo at the end of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)," is The Visit's most powerful moment. Clocking in at 11 minutes, the poet's lovelorn tale of Camelot's most famous peasant maiden is rendered brief by McKennitt's breathless delivery and atmospheric and austere presentation. The Visit is Loreena McKennitt at her most comfortable, creative, and soulful.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger