“Water Bearer”—Sally Oldfield

This is a silly, beautiful, and beloved record from 1978. Sally Oldfield comes from a musical family, her brother being Mike Oldfield, whose record Tubular Bells was in the UK top ten for a time after its release in 1973 (and lent a song to the soundtrack of The Exorcist). Sally has a new-age sensibility and a certain dorkiness that I find deeply charming and sincere, and it’s out in full force here on her debut. Water Bearer’s eponymous first track is driven by a rollicking marimba refrain that gives way to shiny synths and classical guitar for the chorus, while Sally sings of an aquarius hottie. The first track exemplifies the astrological, celestial and natural themes of this record, but the deep affection I have for this album also stems from how unabashedly Sally sings about Elves on the next track.

“Songs of the Quendi” is a four-part ballad that is literally about Tolkien’s Elves from The Lord of the Rings (the “Quendi” refers to the name the Elves gave themselves upon first awakening, meaning “those who speak in voices”). The lyrics, often in Elvish, refer to the three rings of power bestowed upon the race of Elves, Galadriel’s return to the Undying Lands, and the Elves’ rich relationship with the land and the forest. Suffice it to say she loves Tolkien!

The second side of this record continues to be characterized by ornate guitar, funky synths, and Sally’s lilting and acrobatic voice, which has a remarkable range. Part of what makes this record so wholehearted to me lies in the quality of Oldfield’s voice, which bounces between throaty lows and dreamlike highs in a constant vibrato. Sally has a remarkable instinct for theatrics and drama, which means this record feels akin to a troubadour’s medieval lyric-poem. This is one of my favorite albums of all time… please give it a listen (here!)[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-kZaox6IVo&list=OLAK5uy_kjwVHmuTRYpZDBsKB5oYq5C-yaRYZKKXc]