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Galahad - Dragons, Knights and Virgins CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The proliferation of Celtic bands that could be credible stand-ins at your friendly neighbourhood Renaissance faire grows unabated. While many owe their existence to a certain BLACKMORE's NIGHT, it's too easy to forget that some existed and even released albums before that powerhouse duo and friends ever hit the studio. In the case of the "other GALAHAD" from Germany of all places (not to be confused with the UK neo prog band of the same name), even this, their second disk, predated the debut by Blackmore and lass, yet too often sounds as though it was cast from the same dye.

The generally irritating tendency to avoid offending at all costs is in evidence here, however earnest it may be or appear to be. Luckily, this blend of female and male vocals offering ample harmonies, whistles and fiddles reaches into its magic bag often enough to afford a certain charm to "Dragons, Knights and Virgins". For instance, several songs are presented in German, and it's worth noting that the mere insertion of a different language does more than make a song hard for me to understand - it actually transforms GALAHAD into the realm of German prog folk circa OUGENWEIDE, REBEKKA, and even NOVALIS. The traditional songs are more of a mixed bag, partly because they have been too often covered by now if not by then. Still, the version of the standard love ballad "Star of the County Down" manages to sidestep prior renditions quite well, sprinkling the verses with a mystical, even spacey aura. As for "Whiskey in the Jar", I decry the mere existence of its title in the songlist while reluctantly and uncontrollably taping my toes and singing along. On the other hand, "Waters of Babylon" could have and should have been omitted. Not all is well on the originals front either, with "Switch on the Light" proving that a rocker isn't always the antidote to the tightly wound minstrelsy.

Another favourite is "Ancient Days", introducing both singers Paul Alexander and Ulrike Koberg, along with Alexander's flutes. It's really a quintessential opener. "Two Jesters" is a lively and mischievous tale augmented by TULL-like flutes and even some colorful lead guitar. For ballads, "Jonny Boy" offers a simple piano accompaniment reminiscent of midwestern American singer CONNIE DOVER and a pining melody. It leads into the not dissimilar "When She Dance", which also brings to mind a less synthetic ROSE AMONG THORNS with ELAINE MORGAN. "The Garden" tops them all, though, a spacey ballad with a hypnotic chorus, and my pick if you have just 4 minutes left on your Spotify subscription.

Like other albums from this miniature sub genre of folk music, this effort by GALAHAD is a mixed bag offering faux folk for those who think they like it and don't want to be disappointed, but also a sense of time and place far from one's own for those who need that. I'll just say I hope I'm in the second camp.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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