Most helpful critical review
The Original direction of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
on December 17, 2003
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.