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Stone Angel - Between The Water And The Sky CD (album) cover

BETWEEN THE WATER AND THE SKY

Stone Angel

 

Prog Folk

4.00 | 1 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Our native setting, wherein these tales are told."

When I found out that Stone Angel had just released a new album I decided to order a copy directly from the band's website. The disc comes in a very nice digi-pack with an informative booklet. This reflects the high production values and the great attention to detail of the music itself. I expected a good album and could quickly confirm that my expectations would not be frustrated. But over repeated listens Between The Water And The Sky revealed itself to be something ever better. This is a notch above even the very good East Of The Sun in both quality and progressiveness and eventually convinced me to award an extra star.

The basis of the sound of the Stone Angel of the new millennium is still Folk Rock in the tradition of Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, but there are crucial aspects on which Stone Angel differs from these bands. Stone Angel utilises a broader palette of instruments, they only occasionally rely on a Rock rhythm section, and they sometimes include Medieval elements (at times reminiscent of Gryphon; they even use that horrid Crumhorn, but more tastefully than Gryphon did). On many occasions I am reminded of the style of Mike Oldfield here. Electric lead guitar has a stronger presence on this album than on previous Stone Angel albums and the guitar sound is often similar to that of Oldfield. A good reference point in this connection is the excellent and criminally overlooked Prog Folk band The Morrigan. Keyboards are often present here but rarely play a leading role. The sonic quality of the album is superb.

The majority of the material is traditional, but there is a greater proportion of original material all of which is written by Ken and Joan Saul who also share lead vocal duties throughout. Most of the time, the originals are the better songs. Silver, Fisherman's Wife, and Dogger Bank are thematically linked to form a kind of suite. The a cappella Fisherman's Wife tells a very moving story of a wife who looses her husband and sons to the sea. Dogger Bank is one of the few tracks on the album to feature Rock drums and it is also the most up-tempo of the 13 tracks. The most progressive songs are probably The Wind Blows Cold (which features great dueling of electric guitar and flute), Ordinary Man, and the title track. Overall, the second half of the album is more interesting than the first half.

Between The Water And The Sky is British Folk Rock of the highest quality with several progressive aspects. It is a crowning achievement of a nearly 40 year career (longer if you count the band's pre-history) and Stone Angel's best album. Highly recommended to Prog Folk fans!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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