World music bard Loreena McKennitt is preparing to unveil her first album in nearly nine years.

World music bard Loreena McKennitt is preparing to unveil her first album in nearly nine years. Produced by McKennitt and Brian Hughes, "An Ancient Muse" will be released this fall through her own Quinlan Road label, in conjunction with Verve.

The nine-track set borrows from a number of genres and nations to inform McKennitt's literature-laden Celtic compositions. The theme of travel was also a prominent one on her last studio effort, 1997's "The Book of Secrets."

"This record is a little like equipping yourself with a Eurail card," she says. "It's like saying, 'I don't know where I'm going to on this trip. I'm just going to get on board the train, and allow each encounter to lead to the next.'"

Utilizing music traditions from Spain, Greece, Scotland, Ireland and Eastern Europe, McKinnett has integrated a number of literary allusions in "Muse." "The English Ladye and the Knight" is based on the poetry of Sir Walter Scott, while "Penelope's Song" takes its namesake from Odysseus' wife in "The Odyssey."

McKennitt's last release was "Live in Paris and Toronto" in 1999, which entered at No. 3 on the Top World Music Albums chart. "The Book of Secrets" and 1994's "The Mask and Mirror" both topped the tally.

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