by Tysa Banks
Sarah McLachlan’s (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube) new album, Laws of Illusion, and first album with new material in seven years came out in mid-June. Listening to this album feels like a long anticipated rain after several consecutive hot and sticky days. She has gently placed it in the sky and lets it fall upon our heads and faces cooling every nerve inside of us. The eloquence in how she writes is like a breath of fresh air entering into the mass of modern Pop music. Most of the singers today throw together a few words and try to make a beat to it. Usually, there’s a robotic overtone to the “artist’s” voice just because that’s cool these days (not to mention, it hides the fact that they really can’t sing). But as long as they look good and the song is catchy and memorable then it sells.. so the producers keep spitting them out like factory-made Pop Tarts, only they’re really just for the Pop charts. The meaning and inspiration some young and misguided kid needs is absent in nearly all the songs that are being written and played on radio today. So when I found out that Sarah McLachlan was releasing a new album I was as anxious as my dog is to play “Ropey” with me. Trust me, that’s real anxious.
The collection of songs on Laws of Illusion basically tells the eleven-year old fairytale that came to an end in 2008 between Sarah and her husband, Ashwin Sood. They have two beautiful young daughters together. These experiences, among others, have obviously enabled her to enhance her artistry and she is gracious enough to share this with us through her powerful lyrics and breathtaking voice. She may have gone through a very dark and gloomy time during the dissolution of her marriage, but the heartache (as it’s famous for doing) definitely fueled her inspiration to write and transcend her exquisite art. Even the front cover of her album has Sarah lying in the dip of the moon. This scene is absolutely gorgeous, hinting at how beautiful the music inside is going to be. In this case, you can judge a book by its cover because as soon as the first song begins to play, your mind transports itself right there on the moon with her in complete euphoria. Throughout the album, you’ll hear songs about the dreaminess of finding love, the anguish of losing love, the freedom and joy of beginning again, and discovering who you are in life.
“When we first met the well was dry/ A long dark winter passed us by / With shooting stars and hopeful hearts our worlds collide/ And so we rushed to fill each other in”
The above are the first words you hear her sing in her first song, “Awakenings.” This song captures the essence of a love found then lost and the feelings we go through during all of that. The song starts out with a haunting guitar riff paired with her melancholic voice. Something ironic (considering Sood was/is the drummer in her band) that I noticed in this song was the fact that the drums were barely audible until the middle of the song when the chorus was being sung. It was also the only song on her album that had a bit of a hard rock edge to it, which is something rarely done by Sarah. But by the end of the song, we’re left with just that soft and angelic voice we know so well, accompanied only by the delicate strokes of a piano in the background.
I especially got drawn into “Loving You is Easy.” Initially, it seemed a bit out of place on this album, considering most of her songs are a tribute to heartache. The song seemed to suggest she may have met someone new with its jaunty showtune type sound. However, as I listened to the lyrics more and more, I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t that she met someone new but she, herself, was new. She was struggling with the ole’ Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde complex. Loving him was like second nature to her at this point but at the same time it wasn’t as intense as it used to be. She kept hoping for things to get better (“Caught up in the sparkle in your eyes. So wrong and I know I should go so, but it’s not like me to wait”) and sometimes they did. The fiery passion they once knew so well was ignited but thenat other times, it was completely vacant and she found herself alone and desperate for that fire to return. She yearned for those butterfly feelings that she had always felt from the start but it was like she was a stranger to it all. Yet, loving was still easy. Perhaps it just wasn’t the right kind of love anymore. This is a consistent theme of Laws of Illusion.
Her voice is just so overwhelmingly intoxicating sometimes, which prevents us from getting past the beauty of just her voice itself. McLachlan’s voice is the kind of voice that no matter what kind of mood you’re in, listening to her always feels right. This album just so happens to invoke all of our feelings about love, which is McLachlan’s signature. The reason why this album is so different than any of her previous albums, is the fact that these are all her true feelings. She has never been so forthright with her fans before so this is a very generous gift.
Musical artists like Sarah McLachlan come around once in a lifetime or at least once or twice per decade in the music industry. They are legendary in their own genre and even in competition with all other artists of that era. Artists like Janet Jackson, Madonna, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston are only a few of the timeless artists that keep making comebacks time after time. Sarah is among these artists. Just like theirs, her music is never outdated because she just has that magical quality about her. Her voice captivates us every time we hear it and this album is just as hypnotizing as all the others. Listeners can really feel McLachlan’s pain, desperation, anxiety, hope, and desire in this album. Each song has its own way of showing you a glimpse of what the last seven years have been like for her and if you’re human, you will relate to them all very intimately.
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