Friday, July 30, 2010

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!

I am a sucker for Sarah McLachlan. I have no good reason to back this up or substantiate this view. She had one great disk out with Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, and has a number of good songs, but spotty albums available - and a lot of repetition. And apparently I'm still paying for this.

She has a new one: Laws of Illusion, released just in time for her faltering Lilith Fair tour.

Let's start with the repetition, shall we? McLachlan and/or her record company has always been big on recycling her songs - mostly to fill out short-changed albums and it is no different here. Two new songs that appeared on her 2008's great hits collection make a reappearance here - the really good "U Want Me 2" (no Prince did not write it) and the so-so "Don't Give Up on Us". That she didn't put her song for the 2010 Winter Olympics, "One Moment", on here is somewhat quizzical considering the track record - and ironically enough, that song is better than most of the choices that made the cut.

Even with those repeat tunes, you're looking at an album of about 45 minutes, which really kind of sucks for someone who puts out one album every seven years.

While it is not a great album, for her normal style, like it or not, she does mix it up on a few songs - even if they're not great. I'm always ok with an artist breaking out of their rut, if only to a degree. "Awakenings" is a good example of this - while no one would consider it a "rock" song, it has a little more life to it than most of her stuff since Fumbling.

And while her first release, "Loving You is Easy", takes a risk with being different, it doesn't work, but hey, it's at least an attempt. But the song could be as easily about her kids, a lover or the dog she hasn't seen in two weeks. You half expect to hear the opening lines on an organic pet food ad in three years.

But for each of her slight up-change, there is twice as much same ole/same ole stuff. You've heard "Rivers of Love", "Changes", "Out of Tune" and "Forgiveness" before - just with different titles. The latter song being one of the better of the bunch. She's even done stuff like "Bring on the Wonder", but the layers of her vocals (you can barely call them harmonies) are interesting, but makes better background music than anything.

I'm not denying her voice is good, the playing is strong and the production is clean, but all elements are extremely similar to her last outings. Maybe it's time for her to break out of collaborating with her producer of 20 odd year, Pierre Marchand, and try working with other talent.

I took the bullet for you people on this one. Unless you are the hardest of hardcore fans and you absolutely have to have it, knock yourself out. Other than that, save your cash for another release for another day.

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