The Black Balloon is one of John Renbourn's instrumental guitar albums. He gives a classical feel to the tracks on the first side, taking "The English Dance" at an appropriately quick speed and displaying some fast, intricate playing on "Bourée I and II." The lengthy medley of "The Mist Covered Mountains of Home," "The Orphan," and "Tarboulton" introduces his frequent supporting musician Tony Roberts on flute, with Stuart Gordon adding tabla on the final section for a sound reminiscent of the John Renbourn Group projects. The second side contains two long tracks, "The Pelican" and "The Black Balloon," each of which finds Renbourn adding to his textured acoustic work with some overdubbed electric guitar playing, and Roberts again sits in on the title tune. For those who have followed Renbourn to this point, the album will seem like a continuation of one of the paths he enjoys following in British folk music.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann