Although it features the beautiful recorder of Leslie Penny and the Chieftains' Paddy Maloney playing the uilean pipe, Ommadawn didn't gain Mike Oldfield the success he was looking for. The album was released in the same year as the David Bedford-arranged Orchestral Tubular Bells and nine months after Oldfield picked up a Grammy award for the original Tubular Bells album. The most pleasing attribute of Ommadawn is its incorporation of both African and Irish music in its symphonic rock & roll mainframe. Boosted by a hearty amount of different horns, piano, cello, trumpet, and synthesizer, the album has its moments of rising action, but the whole of Ommadawn fails to keep its lovely segments around long enough, and there are some rather lengthy instances that include bland runs of unvaried music. Another plus is Oldfield's use of a choir, giving the album a soft, humanistic feel when contrasted against the keyboards or synthesizer. While it does include flashes of Mike Oldfield's brilliance, the entire album may seem a little anticlimactic when compared to some of his other releases.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne