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Sally Oldfield - Playing In The Flame CD (album) cover


Sally Oldfield

Crossover Prog

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars With "Playing in the Flame", Sally Oldfield moves further to the mainstream, perhaps influenced by Kate Bush's contemporary success, while trying to repeat some of the "Celebration" formula. Unfortunately, neither strategy works very well, with several tracks simply recycling hooks from the prior disk.

This is noticeable in the title cut which seems like a cross between "Mandala" and "Blue Water" but lacks any of their eeriness or urgency. "River of my Childhood" conjures "Woman of the Night" but without its sultry charm, although "Let it all Go" has at it again with better results. Here and there funky elements surface which cast an undistinguished pall over the proceedings, and the same electric pianos and saxes which soared before sound cheap now. "Rare Lightning" illustrates this tendency, while "It's a Long Time" proves that even her normally convincing sunniness is subject to scrutiny at this point

Luckily, "Love of a Lifetime" and "Song of Being" are vintage Oldfield, the latter a thoroughly successful sequel, at least musically, to "My Damsel Heart.", with some celestial string synths coating the fade out. "Song of the Lamp" may be her most reverent song to that point, thanks partially to its hymn like chorus.

"Playing in the Flame" is by far the weakest of Sally's first 4 disks, as she appears to be unwilling to completely abandon her former style even as she runs out of ideas. Broadly, the album lacks much of the energy and enthusiasm of its predecessors. Still, it's better than a lot of what went down in the very early 80s, suggesting that the creative flame was not yet extinguished

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Posted Friday, August 27, 2010 | Review Permalink

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