Sarah McLachlan
Laws of Illusion


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
June 15th, 2010 | 46 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After a seven-year hiatus, Sarah is back and as strong as ever.

When Sarah McLachlan released her landmark album, Surfacing, in 1997 it was a bit of a novelty. I’m not trying to imply that she was the only female vocalist to grace the airwaves around that time, but she did manage to break through on her own terms. While everyone else seemed to be trying to emulate Alanis Morissette’s abrasive style, Sarah released an album that proved that it was still ok to display a bit of vulnerability. Since that year, many artists have picked up on Sarah’s successful formula and their albums have been saturating the market with hardly an original idea between them. Meanwhile, it seemed that Sarah was content with removing herself from the public eye while allowing her record label to push out occasional live and compilation albums. With the release of her new album, Laws of Illusion, the question that requires asking is whether or not she can capture the attention of a fickle audience in an oversaturated market after seven years of silence – after listening to this album, the answer is a definite “yes”.

Admittedly, part of the reason that Laws of Illusion is going to be so readily accepted is simply due to the fact that old fans will find a comforting familiarity that comes with Sarah’s vocals and the music that has become her modus operandi. Sarah McLachlan is still at her best when it’s just her voice and her acoustic guitar along with a bit of subtle accompaniment in the form of strings, piano or even the occasional electronic element. It has always been those smooth, lush arrangements that have allowed Sarah to wear her heart on her sleeve without turning every song into an oppressively cheerless engagement, and that is still the case on Laws of Illusion. Evidence of this can be found on a multitude of songs on this album, but probably no more so than on “Forgiveness” – a song that is actually about being unwilling or unable to forgive someone for what they’ve done.

Despite all of the talk about the comforting familiarity inherent on this album, there might still be a few people that are a bit surprised. The reason is because the music has an occasional tendency to be a little more complicated (“involved” or “varied” might be better descriptors) than Surfacing and Afterglow. Some may hear the opening track, “Awakenings”, and decide that it’s a new direction for Sarah, but it’s really not. In order to figure out where the ideas behind songs such as “Awakenings” came from people would need to look back to Sarah’s earlier albums – specifically Touch and Solace. Those albums had a tendency to be a bit more “artsy” and musical than later releases, and it’s nice to see a bit of that return to Sarah’s sound. This is most obvious in the percussive arrangements that a few of the songs utilize as well as a slightly more expansive use of folk influences in some of the album’s melodies.

In hindsight, it should have been obvious that Sarah McLachlan could pick up right where she left off. Sarah is a consummate professional that has carved a niche for herself that other artists have simply been unable to emulate. Her lush arrangements combined with lyrics that display the everyday vulnerabilities that any one of us might deal with are still presented flawlessly on Laws of Illusion. As if that wasn’t enough for most Sarah McLachlan fans, she has also returned a bit of the youthful ambition that drove her first few albums to be the varied, quirky releases that they were. Despite not having the huge singles that Surfacing had or the momentum that followed Afterglow, Laws of Illusion still manages to stand on its own as another expertly crafted album in Sarah McLachlan’s discography. It is a strong album that collects every positive aspect of Sarah’s past work and presents it in one cohesive, professional package.



Recent reviews by this author
Kenn Nardi Dancing With the PastSick of It All The Last Act of Defiance
Meshuggah I (Special Edition)Cannibal Corpse A Skeletal Domain
Rabbit Junk Pop That Pretty ThirtyAnathema Distant Satellites
user ratings (23)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
patriciojuan (4.5)
Laws of Illusion is not an illusion of bliss....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks to Davey for pushing me on an intro.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 15th 2010


31628 Comments


I think this is a great sister review to your Nevermore one

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ha ha. Do explain.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 15th 2010


31628 Comments


I just meant the contrast from that band to this artist is all haha

Bur this is a great review, as was that

Gyromania
June 15th 2010


16089 Comments


modus operandi

I've never seen that used in a review before, kudos. I enjoyed the review, Trey, as per usual.

I'm really excited to listen to this, I absolutely adore Surfacing

Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Surfacing was my number two album of the nineties. I love that album.

Shameless plug for my 90s list:

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=252470&listid=48082

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
June 15th 2010


20858 Comments


You're welcome Trey. Intro worked really well, and I liked the way you linked it with the relevant Q & A which closed the paragraph.

Album sounds interesting and definitely seems worth a listen.

Review is as rock solid as ever. If anything, it came off a little too informally. Too many mentions of 'Sarah' and not enough mentions of 'McLachlan'. Unless you are intimate with "Sarah"!?!?!? :-)

Jom
Staff Reviewer
June 15th 2010


2711 Comments


Lucky bastard if that's the case!

Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Review is as rock solid as ever. If anything, it came off a little too informally. Too many mentions of 'Sarah' and not enough mentions of 'McLachlan'. Unless you are intimate with "Sarah"!?!?!? :-)
Ha ha, sadly that isn't the case. I understand what you mean with the "informal" thing, but I hate typing out a full name more than a few times - to me it seems redundant.

cvlts
June 15th 2010


8985 Comments


Well, my mom likes Sarah McLachlan...

bloc
June 15th 2010


35024 Comments


I grew up listening to her song Sweet Surrender, that song is so great.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
June 15th 2010


20858 Comments


"... I hate typing out a full name more than a few times - to me it seems redundant."

Ditto. I actually meant interchanging just "McLachlan" with just "Sarah". For example; McLachlan's vocals... It just breaks up any hints of a repetitive nature.


Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Look at you with all of the answers ;) Ha ha, I'd still be pissed off about not having an intro if it wasn't for you.

Fugue
June 15th 2010


7354 Comments



I grew up listening to her song Sweet Surrender, that song is so great.


Sweet Surrender is amazing.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
June 15th 2010


20858 Comments


Hehe. Don't worry, this reads fine as it is. Just something to keep in mind for the future.

Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album doesn't grab you the way that Surfacing just seemed to dig into your heart whether you wanted it to or not, but it's still good -- it's just more of an album and less of an "experience".

@Davey: Duely noted ;)

jrowa001
June 15th 2010


8750 Comments


was never into this chick back in the day but if willie likes it than it could be worth a lookie-loo

Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Everytime I think you're probably gone for good you re-appear. It surprises me to read that you were never into Sarah McLachlan. It seems like it would totally be your thing.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
June 15th 2010


20858 Comments


"Duely noted ;)"

Duly.

Next...


Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fucking IE and its lack of spell checker. Safari has spoiled me.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy