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5.0 out of 5 stars The Freedom Sessions
Typical Sarah Mclachlan-perfect in every way, size, shape, and form. Nothing could have been better. It's a lovely movement from Fumbling (Though FTE was gorgeous) and all the songs have a different edge. As always, 5/5, 5/5, 5/5...and so on.
Elsewhere: My first impression was the funky version of both Sarah and Elsewhere, if you can picture that. Really different...
Published on May 10 2004

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3.0 out of 5 stars The Original direction of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
I'm not actually sure why people consider this as one of Sarah McLachlan's released Albums. I actually see this CD as rather like a b-side thing, a bonus compilation of some sort because each track on this CD is from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Each song, though, is different from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy such as instrumentation as well as some shifts from the melodic...
Published on Dec 17 2003 by S. Bi


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5.0 out of 5 stars The Freedom Sessions, May 10 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
Typical Sarah Mclachlan-perfect in every way, size, shape, and form. Nothing could have been better. It's a lovely movement from Fumbling (Though FTE was gorgeous) and all the songs have a different edge. As always, 5/5, 5/5, 5/5...and so on.
Elsewhere: My first impression was the funky version of both Sarah and Elsewhere, if you can picture that. Really different from the first, but totally and awesomely cool. "I believe this is heaven to no one else but me."
Plenty: Overlapped voices in the background give this Plenty a sort of freaky sound. Not many instruments, but the voices provide the base really well. "I looked into your eyes, they told me plenty I already knew."
Mary: The piano is a lot more in depth on this version. It's so soulful I was in tears by the end. So moving. "Take her hand, she will lead you through the fire. Oh, and give you back hope, and hope that you don't take too much."
Good Enough: Sarah's voice in this is at some of its best. Quiet, yet strong. This song pulls you in and won't let you out. "It's not the wind that cracked your shoulder and threw you to the ground."
Hold On: Gorgeous and intense as always, with an added part at the end. "Now you're sleeping peaceful, I lie awake and pray that you'll be strong tomorrow..."
Ice Cream: Even more fun than normal. Sarah comments that she tried to make this more like her live performances. It makes you want to dance. "Your love is better than ice cream..."
Ice: This is the hard rock version of Ice. Really nice and intense. Ice takes on a whole new meaning after hearing this. "I don't like your tragic sighs, as if your god has passed you by."
Ol'55: A sit back and relax song that appeals to the memory. Sarah does this so well. "Well the sun's comin' up." It has a hidden version of Hold On which tends more towards groove. "... and love the light that brings a smile across your face."
Thank you, Sarah, for creating a CD that, as always, I can't seem to stop listening to.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Sarah Oddity, April 2 2004
By 
Alan Caylow (USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
Sarah McLachlan's "Freedom Sessions" EP from 1995 is a bit of an oddity: seven acoustic versions of songs from Sarah's masterpiece, "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy," plus a cover of the old Tom Waits chestnut, "Ol' 55." Plus, as an added bonus, "The Freedom Sessions" can also be popped into your computer for some extra Sarah goodies (and if I'm not mistaken, this was the very first "Enhanced" CD ever released, so congratulations to Sarah for being the first!). Like her import release from 1996, "Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff," this Sarah CD is for diehards only, but it is a wonderful disc, with Sarah and her band putting a softer, live-in-the-studio spin on such "Fumbling" favorites as "Elsewhere," "Plenty," "Mary," "Good Enough," & "Hold On" that are all very enjoyable. The cover of "Ol' 55" is great fun, and the multimedia portion for your computer is excellent. It's always a pleasure to get any new release from Sarah McLachlan, whether it's a "proper" studio album, or an extra goodie like "The Freedom Sessions." Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Original direction of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Dec 17 2003
By 
S. Bi "mr-independent" (San Jose(Davis) , Ca United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
I'm not actually sure why people consider this as one of Sarah McLachlan's released Albums. I actually see this CD as rather like a b-side thing, a bonus compilation of some sort because each track on this CD is from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Each song, though, is different from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy such as instrumentation as well as some shifts from the melodic structure of the songs.
1. CD-ROM Multimedia Presentation.
2. Elsewhere: this song is driven by the bass, drum, and guitar, and light piano. This piece sounds very "bluesy". The melodic structures of the verses have changed a bit, while the chorus does sound like the original track.
2/5
3. Plenty: the piece consists of very little instrumentation at all. There is some screeching sounds in the background, which is annoying. As the song progresses, about 2 minutes in, there is dramatic drumming that is introduced as well as the keyboard, although very gentle. This song focuses is rather around vocals. The melodic structure of the song is rather the same as Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. This piece is quite haunting.
3/5
4. Mary: this song is driven by the guitar as well as the piano. The song is sung rather with much more dramatic pose. The drum machine sound from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is gone and makes this piece much more intimate. In my opinion, this song is much better than Mary that could be found in Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Sarah's vocals are demonstrated in this song.
5/5
5. Good Enough: this song starts off with organs that sounds very much like a Psalmody, church music. Later on the piano is introduced. The melodic structure of the song is kept from the original. This piece though seems very boring.
2/5
6. Hold On: The song as a very long piano introduction, as well as centering around the piano. This song is much more softer than the original piece. No longer emotionally driven by drum beats and the guitar, the vocals of Sarah takes the place of all of them. Her voice is very clear and emotional in this particular piece. My opinion, this piece is much better than the original. Hold On from this track is much more intimate.
5/5
7. Ice Cream: this version is quite similar to Ice Cream from Mirrorball. Ice Cream is recorded as to how Sarah would perform it live. This song is driven by the bass and guitar. Background vocals do a great job complimenting Sarah quite well, which is accompanied by Ashwin.
4/5
8. Ice: this song is driven the bass and electric guitar, as well as percussions. The vocals are diminished as they are overpowered by the instruments within this piece. There is very much less dramatic pose than the original. The melodic structure of the piece is kept from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.
3/5
9. Ol'55: the only cover song on this CD, which was originally written by Tom Waits. This song sounds very country-ish. This piece sounds quite different with what Sarah would write or sing. This piece does show another side of McLachlan, but not something I would like to listen to.
2/5
This CD, I would recommend to Sarah McLachlan fans who have developed a liking to Fumbling Towards Ecstasy and want to hear a different side to some of the songs from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. They are quite different, some of which are good and some of which one would be happy that they weren't released in Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. If you are a new fan to Sarah McLachlan, I would recommend Sarah's other CD: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Surfacing, or even Afterglow. This CD just shows another side of Sarah and basically the original structures of the song. In the cover sleeve, Sarah writes:
"Most of the songs on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy began as acoustic pieces. Early in the recording process we thought about putting out two records: one record of the original acoustic songs and another with more produced and/or layered songs. In time, one version usually presented itself to be the stronger or just more interesting in its instrumentation and direction, whatever felt right at the time.
I love Fumbling Towards Ecstasy recording and wouldn't change a thing, but I love these versions as reminders of where the songs started and of the various paths we wandered down to discover their identities. It was a joy watching them grow."
Truly in contrast to Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, each piece did develop and grow into much more beautiful music, except for Mary, which I would have preferred have been on the Fumbling Towards Ecstasy released. Overall, this CD is okay, only if you are a fan of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, and want to explore in their original paths.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Nobody bothered with take two, April 1 2002
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
I never review albums but this one inspired me to do so.
First of all, Sarah's voice will carry most efforts by itself, regardless of how poorly coordinated or haphazard the efforts by the supporting musicians. That said, Freedom Sessions both delivers and drowns based on its spontaneity. I came away with the impression that all of the musicians had just met and started playing Fumbling hits, keeping the good ones as well as the bad ones and shying away from artistically limiting notions like editing or discretion. I imagine this album is a good representative of how Sarah sounds when she is fiddling around with a couple of her friends, no real pressure, "Dude, we should record this" sort of evening.
As a result, the album is spectacularly hit or miss. As others have remarked, there are versions of Hold On and Good Enough that are downright shivery. She plays to the more dramatic aspects of her singing style and is not afraid to take chances. This pays off on at least a few tracks. The Ol' 55 cover is unexpected, but good. Ice Cream is still good, but not any different from Fumbling.
However, on a few songs (Elsewhere in particular) the musicians sound like they have never played the song before. The background singer on Elsewhere seems out of place, whenever she sings there's a marked tempo shift. The guitar gradually gains confidence over the course of the song but largely repeats the same scale over and over the way you do in a jam session when you aren't entirely sure what will happen next, and Sarah actually loses the percussion a few times. The effect is raw to the point of being jagged.
Plus, none of the supporting musicians seem to be that good or clear on what they are there to do. Ice in particular takes a beautiful and delicate song and smothers it in unimaginatively played, distortion heavy electric guitar.
Sarah fanatics will like this CD because they would like anything she produces. Those of us that find Sarah McLachlan to be pleasant but not iconic might want to stick to the more polished material. This is a CD aimed at a niche audience. You know who you are.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first taster of live Sarah, Dec 18 2001
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
After releasing such critically-acclaimed albums such as 'Solace' and 'Fumbling Towards Ecstasy' (which broke her in the USA), it was perhaps inevitable that an album such as 'The Freedom Sessions' should become available. On it we get to hear the original versions of fan favourites such as 'Hold On' and 'Good Enough'. A nice bonus is the inlay, which contains a comment by Sarah McLachlan on each of the tunes and what she liked about it.
Thankfully, this is not just a rehash of the popular songs sung in exactly the same style - it's genuinly different. For this reason alone, it's fantastic for any fan to get their hands on. Some songs such as 'Ice' are totally different, with this song being a lot faster on this album. Interestingly this doesn't take from the beautiful lyrics, which was something that is even more evident on the much later 'Remixed' album.
Another good reason to buy this album is the fact that there's an extra track, 'Ol' 55' available, as well as videos to some of Sarah's videos. This is especially good for anyone who hasn't seen the older videos such as 'Into The Fire' or 'Good Enough', which didn't achieve the chart success that Sarah's later albums like 'Surfacing' did. Perhaps people new to Sarah's music would be better off buying 'Solace' or 'Mirrorball', this is something for any big fan to cherish.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I am in heaven� or at least my ears are, Sept. 11 2001
By 
Sandy (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
I did not follow the advice of one of the previous reviewers, I did not listen to "Tumbling Towards Ecstasy" before. And now I am afraid to listen to it, scared to be deceived by the studio/original versions of those marvelous songs!
I always liked the "acoustic/unplugged" formula. I think it really shows a song strengths... or defects. If a song does not stand out straight, an acoustic/stripped down version will not work at all. Only the well-crafted songs with a strong melody survive the treatment. Guess what? Sarah' songs do survive. They even shine.
I discovered Sarah with "Surfacing" and I was mesmerized, enchanted by the combination of her angelic voice and the ethereal musical arrangements. I had to hear more. The next album I listened to was "Touch", her first recording, and I was a little deceived by the bombastic 80's style production (it remains a good album with good songs). It did not stop me from digging further in her discography. I am now so happy to be able to listen to this one again and again... I found back the same feeling of peace and completion "Surfacing" gave me... It is a record I would listen to with eyes closed to let it invade me and take me away, far above earthly everyday occurrences.
It is even difficult for me to point out some favorites: all the songs just sound how they should in those purged/refined versions... and Sarah's voice is just ... what could be the right word? Conclusion: this is a must have.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Music As It's Supposed to Be..True, Free and Unedited, Jan. 25 2000
By 
"zashburn" (The Lion City) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
Why buy this CD if you already have Fumbling ?
Adding to what the other reviewers here have said..Freedom Sessions is the REAL deal. It definitely lends credence to the saying "Less is more". No embellishments. No remastering or whatever techno digital stuff that make songs sound better is used here. Just pure Sarah and her immense talent.
'Elsewhere' is transformed from a slow rock number to a rather catchy accoustic guitar version with Sarah singing in a low sexy drawl. 'Plenty' transforms from a dark moody number into a delightful acapella duet with Camille, her BG singer. A piano-accoustic guitar version 'Mary', freed from the synthesised sounds and monotonous drumming of the original, is like breathing in the fresh breeze of a countryside.
'Good Enough' is more than good enough for me with a orchestra-like background instead of the folk-pop sound of the original. 'Ice Cream', a very lighthearted accoustic version, is Sarah and Ash's (her husband) love song and a standard Valentine's Day dedication. 'Ice', a very edgy version with full-bodied bass and the amplifier turned to the maximum, is so different from the soft haunting mood of the original. Sometimes you gotta have a lot of wine and be merry..Ol 55 is the result of such merriment and it is as the reviewer said; good sloppy fun.
However, the highlight of this album, for me is 'Hold On'. Sarah's songs are generally sad but none really made me cry like this piano version of 'Hold On'. This song was written after Sarah watched a documentary on AIDS and was inspired by a woman's courage after her husband passed away. Hearing Sarah sing, you really feel the woman's pain and sorrow as she watches her husband slowly succumb to death. I can't help but cry when she quietly sings "Oh God, the man I love is leaving, won't you take him when he comes to Your door." Oh no, my eyes are tearing again!
This is music like it's supposed to be; true, free and unedited. Overall, an excellent CD !
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4.0 out of 5 stars Raw ecstasy, Jan. 23 2000
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
"The Freedom Sessions" is by no means a bad CD, but it is definitely not for everyone. I recommend getting this CD only to complete a personal Sarah collection.
The songs on this CD are stripped-down, raw versions of those on "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy," which is easily one of Sarah's best works. Making the adjustment from Fumbling to Freedom, however, is not so easy. It takes a while to get used to the new feeling. During the first listening, the album can seem boring and sleepy, but after a few spins, the songs show off their pure emotion, unfettered by fancy instrumentation and polishing. "The Freedom Sessions" thus accomplishes its goal; it reveals the core of Sarah's words and feelings. In short, give this CD time to show itself off.
Although the songs take a while to establish themselves, the CD-ROM presentation steals the spotlight immediately. The enhanced portion is by far the best of all of Sarah's CDs. It includes clips of all the songs off the CDs released before this one, unlike "Surfacing"'s enhanced portion, which only has clips of two songs from each album. Moreover, "The Freedom Sessions" has generous clips of Sarah's various videos. The CD also has information about her older band members, the Fumbling tour, and even a visit Sarah made to Southeast Asia. The only problem with the enhanced portion is that you always have to skip track one on an audio player, but the multimedia more than makes up for this inconvenience.
All in all, don't pass up "The Freedom Sessions," but keep it as one of the last on your Sarah wish list. She has a lot to offer on her regular albums, so set this one aside until you're ready for it. On a final note, it would have been nice to get just a couple more songs on this version, such as "Wait" and the extremely underrated "Circle."
Key tracks: Elsewhere, Plenty, Mary, Ice Cream, Ice, Ol' 55
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5.0 out of 5 stars Her finest work...yet., Jan. 9 2000
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
When some performers are given the chance to make a cd, they lose a lot of their rights to the producers and technicians that want to "make it better" and only end up taking away from the artist's original concept and ideas. This "stripped-down" version of songs on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy are amazing. When you hear the acoustic version of Hold On, you get a different story than on the FTE album. More pain...more longing...more aching...more emotion. Hearing this version of Mary, you wonder why they never released it on the radio. In concert, this is her best...absolute best song. Her version of Ol'55 is just plain fun. When I hear it, I am instantly transported into my friend's convertible, to the first time I heard it, while the sun was coming up, on our way home from Vegas. It made it all make sense...I know that doesn't, but if you listen and place yourself in your imagination, it will. By far, her best work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Songs from "Fumbling" made ragged and raw, March 29 1999
This review is from: Freedom Sessions (Audio CD)
This wonderful collection of live and unpolished recordings of the songs from her other albums is perhaps her most personal CD. From the happier, more light-hearted version of "Ice Cream" to the amazingly heavy and bitter rendition of "Ice," this CD offers a vastly different experience from anything else she has put out. In addition, the two different recordings of "Hold On" (one is hidden at the end) both provide a contrast to the angrier version on "Fumbling." The only song on this CD not on "Fumbling" is a rendition of Tom Waits' "Ol' '55" which was recorded on the spur of the moment after a lot of red wine had been consumed by the musicians. The result is an amazing and unique recording of a fairly familiar song. If you like "Fumbling," you'll love the "Freedom Sessions."
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Freedom Sessions by Sarah Mclachlan (Audio CD - 1996)
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