It has been seven years since Sarah McLachlan’s last full-length non-seasonal studio album Afterglow. Listening to much of Laws Of Illusion it’s like she never went away. The opening track “Awakenings” seems to kick off an aggressive, more rock-oriented approach, but the album quickly settles into the kind of ethereal folk-edged pop music Sarah McLachlan fans know and love. She is an artist with a truly distinctive sound and approach. Instead of any radical changes in direction, she simply returns to remind us who Sarah is and that she has not gone away.
Sarah McLachlan’s gorgeous, controlled vocals with that distinctive melancholy catch continue to enchant even casual listeners of her music. Simple, exposed songs like “Forgiveness” and “Rivers of Love” showcase the beauty of her voice as it moves across the song like a languidly flowing stream. “Bring On the Wonder” alters the approach by adding new age style echo. The effect is quite beautiful if fleeting at under two minutes.
The first single from Laws Of Illusion is “Loving You Is Easy”, makes me wonder if Sarah listened to Supertramp as a kid, has an upbeat, almost breezy feel, that is quite refreshing. “Out of Tune” applies Sarah McLachlan’s sound to the sense of love providing an oasis from the stresses of the rest of the world. “Heartbreak” makes light of being chased down by sadness. Ultimately Sarah McLachlan tells heartbreak to “find some other fool.” The melancholy seems not too far away, but for the few moments of these songs the smile behind the voice is entrancing.
If you are already a Sarah McLachlan, you really can’t go wrong picking up (possibly downloading it from your favorite online retailer) Laws Of Illusion. It is a collection of songs filled with clever lyrics and bathed in the beauty of her voice. At times however, the whole collection moves and meanders so languidly it may cause the attention of the listener to wander as well. This is not unique to this album in Sarah McLachlan’s catalog. If you are a long-term fan, that aspect of her music will be familiar territory indeed. With Pierre Marchand, Sarah McLachlan’s producer and collaborator for over 20 years, at hand, Laws Of Illusion is another solid statement of her unique position as an artist who has both influenced strongly the entire genre of adult pop and remains distinctive in her own sound.