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Stone Angel

Prog Folk

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Stone Angel Circle Of Leaves album cover
3.05 | 4 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Promise - Prologue (2:39)
2. Candlemas (3:22)
3. Puck's Dance (4:45)
4. Good Mayers All (2:51)
5. The Perfect Cure/The Frog in the Olive Pot (3:24)
6. O Virdissima Virga (4:54)
7. Oak, Ash & Thorn (3:24)
8. Circle of Leaves (5:02)
9. Now Lammas Comes In (3:08)
10. Greensleeves (3:43)
11. When Morrigan Dances (6:03)
12. The Holly and the Ivy/Green Groweth the Holly (5:42)
13. Make We Merry (2:42)
14. Green Ash (2:14)
15. The Promise (5:19)

Total time: 57:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Jane Denny / percussion, vocals
- Dave Felmingham / keyboards, programming, vocals, pink paisley strat on Greensleeves
- Geoff Hurrell / bass guitar, fretless bass, glockenspiel, percussion, vocals
- Joan Saul / vocals, flute, recorders, accordion, crumhorn, shawm, bowed psaltry, singing bowls, percussion
- Ken Saul / vocals, guitars, cittern, dulcimer, hammer dulcimer, banjo, percussion
- Andrew Smith / electric guitars, vocals

Special guests:
- Jonny Cole / additional percussion (3,5,13,15)
- Marion Danby / clarinet (4,5)
- Matt Osborne / drums (6,11,15)
- Pip Sessions / second lead vocal (15)
- Green Man Choir / chorus (15)

Releases information

CD Kissing Spell KSCD959 (2007) UK
CD Phantom (2007)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to SouthSideoftheSky for the last updates
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STONE ANGEL Circle Of Leaves ratings distribution

(4 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (33%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STONE ANGEL Circle Of Leaves reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars This may actually be about as close as modern-day music can come to being quintessential progressive folk. All the trappings are here: established literary and mythical themes set to modern music; a tasteful blend of electric and traditional instruments; continuity of tone; and even a choral arrangement as an epilogue. I’m not sure I’d consider this a masterpiece if for no other reason than it isn’t overly original, but in all this is a very good bit of music that is a welcome surprise from a band that has lumbered along in various stages of existence for more than thirty-five years.

Stone Angel were spawned from the mild acid folk act Midwinter some time around 1974, and were a relatively minor player in the glut of British & Celtic folk bands that peppered the musical landscape in the early and mid seventies. Like most of the others, they released a couple of albums and basically faded away as some members drifted away from music, others wandered off to pursue educations, and still others toiled along as forgotten local acts for many years. The band reformed at times over the years under this and other names, with none of those lineups making much of a lasting impression. Fate shown on the core group when Kissing Spell rediscovered them in the mid-nineties and reissued their first two albums. The group reformed with several new members and appear to be somewhat active even today, with this being the third release of new material since being signed by Kissing Spell in the late nineties.

This if really their most polished offering, and consists of both original and traditional tunes carefully arranged to a bevy of instruments and voices. The core of the original seventies band Ken Saul and Joan Saul (nee Barlte) have assembled a new lineup of local talent, and have compiled a collection of songs set to a drama and spoken-word production called ‘Green Man’ that has been performed as local theater in the Norfolk area. Many of these songs are based on traditional arrangements, including “Good Mayers All”, “The Perfect Curve” and “Now Lammas Comes In”. Others are based on literary themes, including the Peter Bellamy tune “Oak, Ash & Thorn” based on the words of Rudyard Kipling; and an energetic and vibrant rendition of the 12th century German nun St Hildegard’s ode “O Viridissima Virga”.

The music seems to be sequenced somewhat chronologically, with a handful of opening pieces written by Joan Saul but based on historically mythical characters such as Puck and Jack-in-the-Green. These are followed by an undated traditional Norfolk dance tune (“The Perfect Cure”), the St Hildegard song, Kipling, and the 18th century hymnal “Now Lammas Come In”. Other offerings include the 15th century “Make We Merry” and other original works referencing the Christ child and mother Mary as well as nature themes of holly, ivy and lithe meadow lassies. The album closes with a sweeping and vaguely medieval ballad (“The Promise”) which features a two-dozen voice choir, references to Robin Hood and spirits of the seasons, and a lulling bowed psaltry and acoustic guitar delicately plucked between soaring choral choruses. A majestic ending to an altogether delightful album.

Like I said, this isn’t a masterpiece, but that doesn’t matter really since it probably wasn’t meant to be. The CD is still in print but rather difficult to obtain (I had to pay dearly to have it imported to the U.S.); but I would recommend it as well worth the effort for serious fans of bucolic progressive folk music. No question this is a four-star affair, and one that will command a place of prominence in your collection to be played on lazy spring evenings with close friends and a suitable outdoor backdrop. Enjoy it in that setting if you can.


Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars The official soundtrack for a play set up in the local village church

Stone Angel is a Folk Rock band that goes back to the mid-70's (with roots in another band called Midwinter). They released one studio album in 1975 and a live album the year after that, but then it wouldn't be until the year 2000 that they released another album. Since then another two albums have appeared including the present one from 2007 which is the latest to date (but another album is expected this year). Circle Of Leaves contains music written for (and originally performed live by the band within the context of) a play by a community-based theatre group. The play is inspired by various green men legends and characters including Puck, Jack-in-the- Green, Robin Hood, John Barleycorn, etc. I learned all this from the CD booklet and was unaware of it until after I had bought the CD.

Some snippets of spoken word are included between a few songs, but it does not distract too much from the music. The music differs quite a lot from the other album I have by this band called East Of The Sun. The latter is a good, mildly progressive, Folk Rock album. The present album, on the other hand, can perhaps be said to be more progressive (in some sense of the term), or at least it is conceptual, but at the same time it is much less of a Rock album. Given that it is music for a play set up in a church, this is maybe not surprising, but it was a disappointment for me after having been positively surprised with the much better East Of The Sun.

Both male and female voices are heard and a plethora of instruments are used including flutes, accordion, and dulcimers as well as (though discretely) keyboards, electric guitar and bass. I find it an enjoyable, but rather unremarkable listen.

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