Pentangle

One More Road

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Any band that has to compete with their own past with studio recordings of new material faces a tough challenge, particularly when that band only includes two of their original members. That was the challenge faced by Pentangle when they assembled in 1993 -- twenty years after the original quintet had broken up -- to record One More Road, with only guitarist Bert Jansch and singer Jacqui McShee remaining from the original fivesome. Yet while this isn't a record you would group with the best of the original lineup's recordings in the late '60s and early '70s, it was pretty respectable on its own terms. McShee's voice was still as regally haunting as it had been in Pentangle's prime, and the newer members of the group at least had some similar roots in folk-rock music of the '60s and '70s, with drummer Gerry Conway having played in Fotheringay and Fairport Convention; bassist Nigel Portman Smith having been in the more obscure Magna Carta; and guitarist-singer Pete Kirtley having played with Alan Price, Alan Hull, and Kevin Coyne. Yes, the mood is more low-energy and mellow than the early Pentangle records, and lacking in the sense of risk sparked by the interaction among the original quintet. But it's still quality somber British folk-rock, mixing newly penned group originals with a few revisitations of the past; "High Germany" and "Willy O' Winsbury" had been recorded in different versions by the original Pentangle on Solomon's Seal, while "Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?" had of course been made familiar to folk and pop audiences in the '60s by Martin Carthy and Simon & Garfunkel. There are some missteps, notably Pete Kirtley's lead singing on "Endless Sky," which is a big comedown in the midst of the vocal magnificence of McShee. But the use of African rhythms and a politically compassionate lyric on "Somali" demonstrates McShee and Jansch could still move into unexpected directions. The album was reissued as one-half of a 2007 two-CD set that also included their Live 1994 album.

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