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Sally Oldfield - Celebration CD (album) cover

CELEBRATION

Sally Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

3.85 | 7 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars On "Easy", Sally Oldfield adopted a decidedly more personal approach, with hints of her sense of vulnerability as a woman. I always found this at odds with her clearly independent streak, but she communicated her insecurities with such authenticity, not to mention such musical depth, that I could only feel equally vulnerable to her powers. "Celebration" continues in this vein, but more or less abandons her earlier role as raconteur for an all out expression of fragility over a decidedly more diverse musical palette, which renders its cohesiveness all the more impressive.

"Mandala" comes closest to the early Oldfield style, and "Morning of my Life" is backed by appealing deep male voices and lovely piano, but the album really takes off on track 3, "Woman of the Night", a sultry night club expose with Kenny Wheeler's trumpet and Mel Collins' sax (that guy must be on a hundred prog albums) providing the balance to Oldfield's smoky pleas for business. The electric piano also dances about the other figures. It is like nothing she had done before, but neither is the title track, her first reggae tune, and a superb one at that! Part of that beat is carried by what sounds like a vibraphone - think her brother's "Incantations" part 4. The lyrics might be trite but the message never grows old. I should mention here that Sally plays a variety of instruments, but because she has so many accompanists, it's hard to know when we are hearing her and when it is another member of the team.

"Blue Water" might be of greatest interest to die-hard proggers, as it is composed of 2 distinct parts, the first a genetically familiar and dreamy Oldfield repetitive motif, and the second a surprisingly rocker with delicious bass and melody. Yet another first. The last of the 4 monumental tracks is "My Damsel Heart", a gentle yet ominous folk tune at the heart of Oldfield's themes on this disk. It's more deliberately sparse than earlier material, and while there isn't much variation, it doesn't drag, but mesmerizes throughout it's 6+ minutes.

Only the closer is a true disappointment, a mundane manner in which to end a landmark effort. For that reason alone, I am rounding down from 4.5 stars, but don't let that stop you from reveling in this celebration.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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