Carole King released Fantasy during 1973. It was less commercially successful than her other 1970s hit albums, which was a shame, as this was her most creative release. As the years passed, it remained one of her more consistent sellers as many people discovered its uniqueness.
Fantasy was a concept album for the ear and senses. The songs transition seamlessly into one another, which created a cohesive whole despite the wide range of styles and sounds. The blending of soul, pop, jazz, and folk made it a laid-back and subtle listening experience. The music overshadows the lyrics in many places, which were simpler and more straightforward than in the past.
King continued to use a variety of supporting musicians, including guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Dave Walker to form the foundation for her piano work, which was some of the best of her career. She also used a full brass and string section. King did not use any co-writers for this album and so was responsible for composing and arranging all 13 of the tracks.
This was a very sophisticated album in its construction and presentation. The soul styling of “Welfare Symphony” transitions into the string-laden “You Light Up My Life,” which moves on to the Latin sounding “Corazon” and then onto the jazzy “Believe In Humanity.” And so it went throughout the album and was all quite clever. While the tracks can stand on their own, when taken in succession, they have an added depth and formed a memorable whole.
The better songs tended to have optimism to them. “You Light Up My Life” explored the simple pleasures of love, while “Believe In Humanity” had an upbeat philosophical message. While several of the tracks went in different directions, such as “Being At War With Each Other” and “Welfare Symphony,” even they had a calm and peaceful feel to them. The long story song, “Haywood,” falls into that category as well.
When listening to Fantasy, you need to put your feet up, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and relax as the music washes over you. It was a joyous romp through the fantasy life of Carole King and maybe yours as well.
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