on 5 April 2002
Although a huge star in the US and in her native Canada, Sarah McLachlan is a relative unknown here in the UK - possibly only recognised for:
- singing on Delerium's Silence',
- her duet on Sheryl Crow's live album,
- having one of her songs ('Angel') covered by Westlife
- contributions to the occaisional film soundtrack.
This is a crying shame because 1993's 'Fumbling Towards Ecstasy' (her 3rd studio album) is a masterpiece. Every song is thoughtfully written, beautifully sung and arranged/produced to perfection. Sarah's clear, classically-trained voice sets the spine tingling, whilst the emotion in the lyrics move the heart.
This CD is a timely reminder that the genre of the intelligent and soulful female singer/songwriter does NOT start and end with Dido's 'No Angel'. I'm not dissing Ms Armstrong, but 'Fumbling Towards Ecstasy' is in a wholly different league (albeit in a similar vein).
My favorite tracks on this album are the piano-accompanied slow version of 'Posession' and Sarah's cover of Joni Mitchell's 'Blue', with its layered harmonies.
Everyone who has listened to this CD has wanted their own copy. The only negative comment that I have heard is concerning the 'downbeat' nature of some of the songs. Hmmm - in a country obsessed with Coldplay, Travis, Starsailor and Radiohead? - give me a break!
Those who liked this CD would also be interested in Sarah's 1997 album 'Surfacing' and the 1999 live album/DVD 'Mirrorball'.
It sounds like I am a Sarah McLachlan fan - well, since buying this CD 'on-spec' 15 months ago, I AM! And you should be too.
on 11 February 2001
I got into Sarah Mclachlan's music in what may seem to be a slightly strange way. I didn't hear it on the radio, or catch her on the box at any time. I was reading a piece of fiction on the web, which the author had based on Sarah's song, 'Possession', and, curious as to why this song had inspired such a brilliant piece of writing, I downloaded it. Ever since then, I have been unable to stop listening to her music. SO I bought Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, and it was amazing. Unlike the later album 'Surfacing', it has a slight raw edge to it, that makes tracks such as 'Good Enough' and 'Hold On' cut straight to the core of your emotions. I don't know how she does it, but with 'Possession', Sarah McLachlan somehow managed to reach deep into my head, pull out all the mess and put it down on paper. I would not be without this album.
on 11 March 2001
I found Sarah Mclachlan through, unusually, a TV show which used her music extensively. Out of all four CD's 'fumbling towards ectasy' has to be in my opinion her best work. I have been listening to it for 4 years and it is indeed music to live with. Some songs require you to turn them up loud and listen intensely, some hum in the backround. Sarah's music gets into your brain and walks beside you through your day.
Fans of her work will notice how it appears in numerous film/tv scores, helping you take in the emotions of the characters. This isn't for no reason, it'll take in yours too.
The subjects tackled are strong, from the matter-of-fact domestic violence in 'good enough' to the screaming bereavement in 'hold on', and each song is sung with a clarity and emotional depth i find difficult to hear in most singers. Thus i would never describe her music as 'ethreral', or 'floaty' as this describes detachment and escapism, which is not applicable here.
Sarah's previous albums were good, but lacked focus, and her most recent is the work of a more well known, polished artist, and thus loses some of the raw emotion. This album catches her at that rare point in a career where confidence and originality exist together. If you only buy one album by her, make sure it's this one.
on 19 March 2004
I used to use "Fear" as a demo track for testing hi-fi equipment, and I have often cried listening to this song on valve-amps with top notch speakers and CD player. I've been listening to Sarah's music for many years and "Fumbling...." was really one of her worldwide breaks to exposure to the world. Backed by tours for Lilith Fair in the US (and a one off Lilith Tour in London), Sarah MacLachlan started to gain momentum in the UK from the back of this album prior to the release of "Adia" (from Surfacing).
The album contains a variety of songs with personal meanings to everyone, from layered vocals, strong singles, to catchy little songs.
Favourite tracks - I like them all!
In a similar area, check out Tara MacLean and Loreena McKennitt
on 10 February 2004
Everyone has a favourite singer. I have many, but if I truly had to pick just one, I might just pick Sarah McLachlan. Her music is simply beautiful, each tune haunting, and some even dark. 'Fumbling Towards Ecstasy' is my fourth Sarah album, but the funny thing is I heard 'Remixed' before anything else I heard so 'Possesion' and 'Fear' are new versions to me. I love the sweet tang of this album. It leaves a taste not quite like her later albums, and I agree with the reviewer that perceives this as a harder edged brand of Sarah's music. The elusive 'Possesion' is a stonger chorus than I thinking I've yet from Sarah. Though I don't believe some of the songs are quite as catchy as her new album, 'Afterglow' they are perfectly chilled and quite as wonderful. All in all, 'Fumbling Towards Ecstasy' is a more (grown up(?)) version of Sarah, and I can see how her fans that have been following her for longer than I appreciate this more than anything else.
on 15 March 2004
I discovered Sarah McLachlan through the use of her songs in TV series "Due South". Four of these records are on here (Possession, Possession (piano version), Fear, Fumbling Towards Ecstacy). Sarah has the most beautiful voice, filled with emotion, quite unlike anything anything I've heard before. The title track, Fumbling Towards Ecstacy, and it's ending with a piano-version of Possession, are simply stunning.
on 20 February 2004
A few years ago the BBC ran a quirky series about a Canadian Mountie working in America.
One of the storylines involved and old ladyfriend of his that subsequently was out to do him harm.
During that episode there were several wonderful musical moments which turned out to be by an artist by the name of Sarah McLachlan.
On the strength of those sortened versions of her songs I purchased this album ............. and I was not disappointed by it.
on 4 January 2006
This album is one of a kind. It is absolutely amazing. It will grab you from start to finish, take you to Heaven and before you know it drop you back down to Earth with a bang 40 mins later! It is honest, emotional, inspiring, depressing and romantic. It is poetry that is so honest it could make you cry. This is such a special album that you will be reluctant to take it out of your CD player for more than 4 hours.
on 24 November 2000
Let's get one thing clear straight away: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is an extremely beautiful album. Lovely. Very pretty.
I'd just like to point something out to would-be purchasers. If you've read the reviews on Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com, you'll no doubt have been amazed by how many 5-star verdicts there are. The words "haunting" and "emotional" keep cropping up. Well fair enough, the album is both haunting and emotional. But it's not particularly ENGAGING...
It's beautifully performed; the production quality is outstanding; the vocal performances are unsurpassable and the whole thing just drips with quality. And yet, to me at least, it's just a little... (dare I say it)... DULL.
Here's the list of Sarah's contemporaries: Kate Bush, Jerry Burns, Dido, Eddi Reader, Alison Goldfrapp, Beth Orton, Karen Matheson (of Capercaillie), Liz Fraser (of Cocteau Twins), maybe a few others. The difference is that on any of the albums by the above artists you'll find variety, depth, disparity and, basically, something that allows the album to stand up to repeated listenings, each time revealing something new. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is more like one long song that lasts 50 minutes. All very well, but it's all a bit samey. A bit lacking in structure. Lots of polish and gloss, yes, but not a great deal underneath.
If you haven't heard it but are thinking of buying it, here's my advice: If you're already a fan of the other artists I mentioned earlier, you might find this album a bit of a let down, if only becuase you'll have built up high standards of expectation (can anything else really be as good as Beth Orton's Central Reservation? you'll say. Or Dido's No Angel? Or Capercaillie's Dusk Till Dawn?).
On the other hand, if you're a relative newcomer to albums that prompt reviewers to use words like "ethereal" and "floaty", then give it a try. It is, as I said, still a beautiful album.
Apropos of nothing, there's something about Sarah McLachlan that reminds me of both Tori Amos and Heather Nova. Both very capable artists, but whose albums veer too far into American middle-of-the-road mainstream rock. Hopefully Sarah's next album will nimbly sidestep the road to mediocrity and give us something really nourishing.
on 30 July 2001
I bought this Cd after hearing full of grace (which is not on this album)and fear, they were such strong heart rendering songs that i was touched and moved by the strong feelings brought out in the lyrics. After buying this Cd, expecting a reasonable sond not unlike Didos' No Angel i was more than pleasantly suprised And although a few of the songs take two or three listenings to , to understand and fully enjoy they will become better and better the more they are listened to and so its well worth the wait.