Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy: Legacy Edition

Music Reviews Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy: Legacy Edition

Fumbling indeed

In 1993, Liz Phair, Björk, PJ Harvey, Belly, and The Breeders all released well-received albums, heralding that the decade of Women in Rock was underway—no matter how dubious that designation seems today. Yet none of them boasted the sales figures or overwhelming influence—ill or otherwise—of Sarah McLachlan’s third album, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, which inspired not only the Lilith Fair tours but also the eventual sanitizing of that very movement. Fifteen years later, these dozen songs haven’t aged particularly well. Against programmed beats that sound tinny and lifeless, her vocals—artfully restrained on previous albums—sound bluntly emotive, and her once incisive songwriting turns Hallmark saccharine. This Legacy Edition includes a DVD as well as McLachlan’s live album The Freedom Sessions, which strips the songs to their acoustic essentials. Most sound better here than their studio counterparts, recalling the dark soulfulness of McLachlan’s 1991 album Solace, which remains her truest statement.

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