Record of the Month – Classic

Another installment of a disk I have enjoyed over the years. I’m trying to keep the Record of the Month posts to be fairly new releases. Classics are going to be ones that are at least 5 years old.

While not her most commercially successful album, Sarah McLachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is arguably her best.

Released 15 years ago (well, in Canada – 14 years ago in the States), it was one of the two best disks of the year (Crowded House’s Woodface being the second).

I had seen McLachlan a few years earlier perform at this little Columbus bar called Gibby’s, located in the Brewery District, before there was a Brewery District. She did an admirable job, but I wasn’t jumping out of my seat or anything.

Flash forward maybe two years. Denton and I were in Toronto and heard a song I was immediately drawn to, “Possessions”, but it was nowhere to be found. Having just been released only to radio – neither the single or the disk were yet available. It would be months before it was released here.

As good as “Possession” was, it kicks off a disk that works on every level: songwriting, vocally, musically and production. Pierre Merchand’s production work is pristine and he uses McLachlan layer multiple backing vocals over her lead.

As the overriding theme of Fumbling is fear, a song about love being ‘better than chocolate’ seems woefully out of place.  Of the 13 songs (the last being a hidden track), “Ice Cream” is the only one doesn’t work for me.

I’d say there aren’t any other bad songs, but there are some that are better than others: “Ice”, “Everywhere”, “Fear” to name three.  And I still really like “Possession”.

McLachlan’s label just released a Legacy version of the disk for it’s 15th year anniversary. The disk isn’t expanded really – they just tacked on the live and majorly inferior Freedom Sessions onto a second disk. But her label has re-released so much of her stuff in so many formats, it is not surprising.

With her greatest hits album coming out before the holidays, it would be easy to get that – but it is the music and the sequencing on Fumbling that  makes it what it is – a fully formed album and not just a compilation.

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