Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan

Laws of Illusion

Arista

Can I help it if Fumbling Toward Ecstasy and Surfacing mean Sarah McLachlan to me lots more than her latest, Laws of Illusion? After seven years, my homebrew cassettes are dust, and I’m pretty sure I’m clinging to my college radio memories, young angst, the drench of that voice that I absolutely reveled in — because it made me swoon at twenty.

Oh hell, don’t worry. She still has that voice, the earnest yodel, but this time there’s just a teensy bit more pop in the mix. Damn it.

Part of the disappointment — I have to say it — is that these are sad relationship songs, not awesome getting-inside-you songs. “I have sheltered my heart in a place you can’t touch” carries a bit less emotional weight than “It’s my heart that pounds beneath my flesh,” and don’t tell me I’m wrong.

The biggest disappointment, distraction, really, is that on this album, McLachlan’s voice is an accompaniment to the music — and that’s just the wrong way around. The beat, the sound, of this album is too regular, too drum machine, not funky or indie or woozy enough.

I can imagine that a live performance of these songs would eclipse the recordings by a hell of a lot, though I just happened to miss that concert at Jet Blue’s T5 last July. I do have to give her credit for stealing “I have hungered for your tender touch a long and lonely time” from the Righteous Brothers. I wouldn’t mind hearing that one live.

Sarah McLachlan: www.sarahmclachlan.com

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