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Sally Oldfield - Water Bearer CD (album) cover

WATER BEARER

Sally Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

3.88 | 31 ratings

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dsbenson
4 stars Water Bearer is Sally Oldfield's first album. It's a very nice listen, and fits well into the woodsy style of the vocal work she was doing in the same era with her brother Mike and with Steve Hackett.

The songs are very lyrical and not very complex. I'd actually put this in the "New Age" category with a subcategory of Crossover Prog: I think of this album in the same way that I think of Enya's music. Ethereal, very pretty. Not a lot of "prog" substance here, but it's quite nice.

A while back, I though I'd revisit Sally Oldfield and listen to the rest of her catalog. Unfortunately, my experience seems to mirror that of others' on this site, judging by the quick falloff in the number of ratings after Water Bearer. Her voice, which sounds light and ethereal on this recording, gets old very quickly on every subsequent release, especially when she lowers her register and starts to imitate Kate Bush?unsuccessfully.

However, on Water Bearer she's singing much higher in her range, which works for her well. It's too bad Sally Oldfield started relying on so much fast vibrato on later recordings, as if she and her brother were imitating each other's style: her with vocal vibrato, and Mike Oldfield with lead guitar vibrato. In Mike's playing, it works for me. In Sally Oldfield's singing, it does not.

However, here on Water Bearer she's allowing herself to sing a lot of clear notes in a high register, which gives her a very pure and listenable tone.

Musically she seems to be influenced a lot here by her brother's ostinato repeating patterns as well, which gives the music a very familiar quality that helps. I think that's why this album is the one people gravitate to. On later albums, the songwriting seems a lot weaker and closer to pop. Unfortunately, Sally Oldfield didn't have the songwriting, singing or musical style to fit into a pop idiom.

Bottom line: stick with Water Bearer, and enjoy. But beware: some recent remastered releases chopped the album down from around 45 minutes to well under 40, for some reason I cannot fathom. Avoid those like the plague. The sonic improvements from the remastering (which are present, but aren't huge) are not worth sacrificing half or more of several of the songs.

dsbenson | 4/5 |

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