Though arguably the best In Gowan Ring experience is live -- B'eirth plays the medieval troubadour quite well and mysteriously, but doesn't forget humor or the fact that the Industrial Revolution has in fact happened -- The Glinting Spade is quite a lovely listen indeed. Anyone captivated by folk that either consciously explores its very early roots or the acid folk approach that psychedelia let in will find something to like here; B'eirth's approach suggests Edward Ka-Spel as much as it does the mythical figure of Ossian, say. His generally acoustic bent is more carefully seasoned by low-key experimentation throughout The Glinting Spade -- extended tones, strange echoes, and buried sounds expand the palette of his work to an intriguing degree, with "In the Dream of the Queen" being an especially striking example. That said, the choice of instruments tends to be tried and true -- everything from church organ to zither is credited, along with more esoteric choices of fire, chalice, bow and arrow, even oats! Quite what the role of everything is meant to be is unclear, but if the effect is to create a sense of a shadowy ritual out of time past (along the lines of, say, Fire and Ice, but by no means sounding the same), In Gowan Ring succeeds quite well. B'eirth isn't one to shout or scream -- what's the point, after all? -- and his style of singing is very, very restrained, avoiding the sometimes tiresome drama of similarly minded revivalists who apparently think they really are about to summon up the Horned King and the Great Hunt. Songs like "To Thrum a Glassy Stem" and "Bow Star" are quiet beauties, while the lusher approach of "Cipher's String on the Tree" suggests a great lord's minstrels performing a late-night service.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett