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Picks and Pans Review: Water Bearer

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Sally Oldfield

Much about this concept album will be cloying to anyone who doesn’t share Oldfield’s deep reverence for Eastern mysticism, Tolkien and American Indian lore. Then there is the fact that the credits list Oldfield on vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Spanish guitar, marimba, synthesizer, vibes, Moog bass, tubaphone, mandolin, percussion, harpsichord, pipe organ and, believe it or not, glockenspiel. Still, the determination of a singer who has been recording for 10 years with little success has to be admired. She describes a contract with Warner Brothers records as “three years of acute misery.” More to the point, Sally’s fragile, feathery voice lends a pleasing serenity even to her more mindless tunes, and some of them have a soothing sweetness. The album isn’t anything to read War and Peace by, but for I Ching, it’s just the thing.