Stone Angel

Stone Angel

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The rare self-titled album by the British band Stone Angel was heard by few people when it was first issued (as a private pressing) in the mid-'70s, though it found a wider (though still small and cult) audience when it was reissued on CD many years later. It's not so much folk-rock as folk-rock-influenced folk, often with a medieval/Renaissance feel. You can hear some electric guitar, but there are no drums, and there's a good heaping of instrumentation such as flute, dulcimer, crumhorn, and mandolin that aren't heard on many rock records. Some listeners might be put off a bit by the basic and slightly (and, on some tracks, more than slightly) lo-fi production; it was, after all, recorded in February 1975 as a demo. But overall, it's an impressive take on Middle Ages-era British folk music that has enough force and mild electric rock influence to make it more approachable to modern listeners, even if it's still on the somber (indeed mildly gloomy) and anachronistic side. Some of the performance, indeed, have a hymnal quality (especially in the vocals, whether solo or harmonized) that seems almost right out of olden times. At least, it seems like ancient times until you hear well-placed bass runs, as you do on "The Gay Goshawk," or circular guitar licks that wouldn't have sounded too out of place on a Yes record, as you do on "The Black Dog."

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