Sarah McLachlan – [Album]

Friday, 11 June 2010

It has now been seven years since Sarah McLachlan last released a full length studio album (the Christmas album, Wintersong, doesn't count – nor do Closer: The Best Of…, Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff Volume 2, Bloom or any of the four live albums that have come out since 2003, because they were all easy, soft option releases) and, after such a long time, one would think that any release to come along would be one of two things: either a comical attempt by the singer to pick up right where she left off (which would be a little difficult to fashion given that the idea of nothing changing in the better part of a decade would be unbelievable), or an artistic departure so great that no one would be able to easily digest it. Suffice it to say that, after seven years, it would be very possible for McLachlan to be damned either way; somebody's going to be skeptical and/or disappointed no matter what.

To be perfectly critical, that it has been seven years shows a bit in the opening of Laws Of Illusion roo; in spite of the marvelous and streamlined electronic opening of “Awakenings” and its' perfect into the very “Sarah McLachlan” and Lillith Fair-ified “Illusions Of Bliss,” the singer is obviously having a bit of difficulty cooking the dust off her songwriting circuits as she doubles back on her own sentiments (“I'm not going to lose myself again” in “Awakenings” gets backed awkwardly by “Here I go again – back into your arms” pm “Illusions Of Bliss”) and rides the vibes of her rhetoric in hopes of getting over rather than hitting a genuine stride. Happily, it doesn't take her long to come around to that stride though. Beginning with the lead-off single, “Loving You Is Easy,” McLachlan pushes forward onto more fantastic terrain with some elegant piano-driven classicism that rings as spry rather than novel and is more representative of the new tones McLachlan is working with and more satisfying as “Changes” follows and solidifies the same line.

From there, Sarah McLachlan bounces back and forth between the past and the present – occasionally re-examining some of her more time-honored sounds (“Forgiveness” comes dangerously close to re-writing “Adia”) and new, exciting ones like the tense, bordering on dissonant “Love Come” and the bracing, almost U2-esque “Heartbreak.” In every case, McLachlan (wisely) doesn't lose herself in any foreign artistic territories and maintains her authoritative, uniquely “Sarah McLachlan” voice. Because the sounds and deliveries that fans are well-familiar with are here as well as some newer, mild experiments, Laws Of Illusion functions as a decent and even engaging transitional record that allows for older fans to get acclimated to the singer's new ideas more easily than it would be had the singer orchestrated a hard change and thrown listeners in to sink or swim on their own. This way, McLachlan doesn't so easily run the risk of alienating those devout fans that have waited patiently for a new album, but it still nudges them toward the idea that more significant changes may be in the works. Unlike so many other songwriters that went years without new material available and confused fans when they came back totally different (k.d. lang comes to mind), Sarah McLachlan uses a far gentler hand to return and express the change in her, and that will likely be more palatable to fans than the alternative.



Laws Of Illusion
comes out on June 15, 2010 through Nettwerk/Arista/Sony Music. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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