Monday, June 28, 2010

"Laws of Illusion" by Sarah McLachlan

Being a complete Sarah fanatic for a number of years, I was highly disappointed in myself when I logged into my MySpace page at the end of May and realized:
  1. Sarah McLachlan was releasing a new album and I was completely unaware.
  2. I had failed to "Like" her on Facebook, in which case #1 would never have happened.
  3. I still hate MySpace. Why do I still even have a MySpace profile??
In any event, once I got my hands on the album, I had to (as usual) trap hubby in the car with me to enforce listening. For the first time in our almost-seven-years together, however, the most shocking thing occurred. My husband, while listening to a Sarah McLachlan album for the first time, actually uttered the words, "this is really good." Typically, I play something ad nauseum, and he finally begins to like it, because it's that or complete insanity. Don't worry, he has to do the same with me on a fair amount of his music, too. (It took a week before I could actually handle The Addams Family: The Musical in its entirety.)

But enough about that. Let's talk about the album, shall we?

Sarah has had a rough few years, and it comes through clearly in the album. Many of the songs give a glimpse of her emotional state and she is unapologetic and unabashed about the honesty in this album. "Loving You is Easy" is one of the few happy songs on the album, which is fine by me, as my love of Sarah McLachlan's music has never been based on her more cheerful tunes (though "Loving" is catchy, and one that I catch myself singing a great deal).

Stylistically, the entire album sounds much more upbeat than any of her previous work, despite the bittersweet lyrics. The music feels more elaborate, and on "Awakenings," the opening track, there's a heavy dose of electronic. For some artists, adding so much background can result in a loss of vocal quality, but this album has been very well constructed to avoid that effect. Interestingly, the one thing "missing" from Laws of Illusion is her very characteristic style of flipping her voice from low notes to high (my husband refers to it as "yodeling" but this gives me visions of lederhosen, so I'll stick with "flipping"). While it's there in some of the songs, in most, she has opted for a much smoother vocal style.

My only complaint? The saw, heard throughout "Last Dance" on Surfacing, makes a repeat appearance in the song "Changes" and it seriously bugs me. I've never liked the saw as a musical instrument, and while I (clearly) worship the ground Ms. McLachlan sings over, I just can't make an exception.

$12.99 for the Deluxe Version on iTunes, $19.99 at Borders, and at this writing $12.37 at Go on, you know you want it...