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Music Review: Sarah McLachlan - Afterglow

Friday, November 21, 2003 by Helly || [0 Comments]

Sarah McLachlan has been absent from the music scene for several years. After the final show of the final year of the Lilith Fair in 1999 (the musical festival focusing on female artists that McLachlan organized), she retreated from the spotlight in order to focus on family, specifically her husband (also her drummer) and their first child. McLachlan returns with “Afterglow”, her first studio album since 1997’s hugely popular “Surfacing” and her first album since 1999’s live showcase, “Mirrorball”.

“Afterglow” is a return to the same style and form of “Surfacing”. McLachlan has once again teamed up with producer Pierre Marchand, who has produced many of her previous works. Together they manage to capture the same soft, atmospheric tones of her previous efforts, which fans will recognize immediately. There is perhaps a little more piano on this album, which is reflective of the fact that McLachlan composed these tunes on a piano instead of a guitar, which has been her primary instrument for writing songs on past albums. It appears that the choice of instrument has made little impact on the style of her music, however, as this album is easily meshed with her earlier work.

Indeed the musical style, with layered vocals and strings entwining with piano and the more standard pop/rock instruments is all vintage McLachlan. There’s nothing new here, musically speaking, but it will please her fans all the same. What is interesting to note, however, is that underneath all that expansive quietude of music roils some relatively seething lyrics. Apparently the time off and her happy home life haven’t erased all the pain and emotion in her world, and this is reflected in the lyrics. While there are the more traditional songs of love, there seems to be an undercurrent of loss, disillusionment and betrayal on many tracks.

Overall, 'Afterglow' is a solid album and fans of McLachlan won’t be disappointed. Indeed, the album debuted at number 2 on the Billboard charts (dropping to 7 this week). Those looking for experimentation and growth will probably want to continue listening to her B-Sides album or retreat back to 'Solace' and 'Fumbling Towards Ecstasy'.

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