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Pendragon - Believe CD (album) cover





3.58 | 411 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
5 stars I would never have imagined, as I sat in this chair several years ago and reviewed the overwrought "Not of this World", that I would ever want to indulge PENDRAGON again. But circumstances intervened in the form of several enjoyable samples sent my way. Unfortunately, these were often among the only highlights present, but "Believe" actually provides an appropriate setting for a surprisingly compelling collection of songs.

Whereas before PENDRAGON aimed for extended arrangements and running times for their own sake, on "Believe" the songs and indeed the concept are only as long as they need to be. Whereas before PENDRAGON put up walls of sound between the essence of their pieces and their audience, "Believe" steps back and permits that essence to flow forth from groove to ear. Whereas before PENDRAGON was a typical neo prog group with inconsistent and infrequent flashes of distinction, "Believe" marks their transformation into a confident modern progressive group with a few influences that pre-date the 60s and 70s, and that emanate from beyond the stiff upper lip of the UK. I could go on, but at this point I think you get the picture.

All the tracks here merge together in sequence better than apart or shuffled, so this is a remarkably complete and well compiled effort with a concept that doesn't require a double PHD but also doesn't insult. Many of the tracks have spoken and chanted parts that span cultural and temporal influences. Acoustic guitar is more prominent than usual. The main act is the 4 part "The Wishing Well", with the anthemic and heartfelt "Sou by Southwest" being the obvious highlight. Still, "We Talked" shows a harder edged facet of the group for one of the first times, and with remarkable success, and "Two Roads" settles us down well as the suite closer.

Everything else least good and mostly very good. The rock and roll of "No Place for the Innocent" and the wistfulness of "Edge of the World" are both convincing, while the closing few minutes of "Learning Curve" surely inspired the polish neo groups SATELLITE and BELIEVE, and possibly even the name of the latter!

I'm going to go out on a limb here. There is often something missing in neo prog that makes it hard to consider albums as 5 star classics other than occasionally from a historical perspective. To some extent that intangible is also lacking in "Believe", but, on the flipside, it quite surpasses much of its ilk in terms of folk, world, and even experimental leanings, production, and consistency of vision. I reserve the right to re-visit should my faith be challenged, but at least for now I am about devout. 4.5 stars rounded up.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |


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