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Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (Legacy Edition) [Audio Version]

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Album Review

Although 1991's Solace made Sarah McLachlan a star in Canada, her international breakthrough arrived two years later with Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, a softly assured album that combined the atmospheric production of Pierre Marchand (a former apprentice — and evident disciple — of Daniel Lanois) with some of McLachlan's strongest songwriting to date. At the center of everything was her voice, an ethereal, lilting soprano that helped pave the way for Paula Cole, Lillith Fair, and a decade's worth of successful female songwriters. McLachlan utilized the crack between her chest and head voice, emphasizing the changing tones as her melodies climbed into the vocal stratosphere. She was also comparatively young at the time of Ecstasy's release, and her combination of vocal hooks and commercial appeal wouldn't be fully mastered until 1997's Surfacing. Even so, McLachlan's work was rarely as raw or honest as it is here, where tales of sin, lust, and love are delivered alongside piano arpeggios and electronic flourishes. "Possession," the album's lead-off single, is a jarring love ballad with lyrics inspired by a stalker's correspondence. There's a double-edged quality to the song's eerie lines — "I'll take your breath away," "I won't be denied," "Just close your eyes, dear" — and Marchand underscores that tension by setting McLachlan's melodies to a nocturnal trip-hop beat. Elsewhere, the two lighten up with "Ice Cream," which likens love's sweetness to decadent deserts, yet Fumbling Towards Ecstasy takes most of its strength from the lush, rhythmic dreamscapes that dominate the album. Alternately dark and shimmering, intimate and ornate, soothing and slyly unsettling, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy launched McLachlan's international star power while setting a high bar for her future albums, many of which approached — but not never quite eclipsed — this career highlight. [The Japanese version of the CD was released with a bonus track.]

Customer Reviews

One of the most breathtakingly beautiful albums in the world...

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is, in my opinion, Sarah McLachlan’s most emotional, personal and brilliant album to date and my number one album of all time.

Each song brings such different emotions of love, loss, happiness, uncertainty, a fighting spirit that cannot be defeated (Listen to her cry out on Elsewhere, "I believe this is heaven to no one else but me and I'll defend it as long as I can be left here to linger in silence...".
From the captivating Possession, “Oh you speak to me in riddles and
you speak to me in rhymes,
 my body aches to breathe your breath,
 your words keep me alive” to the heartbreaking truth of the longing for love from another on Fumbling's title track, "And if I shed a tear I won't cage it, I won't fear love...!", this piece of artistic brilliance brings together everything that you could ever possibly wish for in an album, a frank and honest work that will captivate your soul for years to come.

Highlights include the almost operatic Fear, the hauntingly dark and soulful Wait, the heartbreaking Hold On (A song which drew inspiration from a documentary about a woman who cared for her husband who was dying from AIDS) and Ice, a tale of addition to love for another person.

Highly recommended.


Born: 28 January 1968 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Since her debut in 1988, Sarah McLachlan's atmospheric folk-pop has gained a devoted following not only in her native Canada, where she established star status with her first album, but also in the U.S. and U.K. The following two decades saw her grow both as a musician and songwriter, continually redefining herself and emerging as a major voice in the growing adult alternative pop format. She also founded Lilith Fair, a concert...
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