Afterglow was the last Sarah McLachlan album of original material and that was 7 years ago. When you consider the fact that the previous album before that was in 1997 with Surfacing, she is really not giving us, her ardent fans, much to hold on to. Now keeping that aside, my favourite singer delivers a nice album in Laws Of Illusion, her 7th studio outing, filled with 13 songs in that unmistakable style of hers. She is not rock, she is not pop, she is not goth-pop as I have heard her music being described. She is just Sarah!
Released by Arista Records on June 15, 2010, the recording for the album took place in Montreal and Vancouver and production was handled by Pierre Marchand, with whom McLachlan has frequently collaborated in the past. Awakenings is the love gone bad once the good intentions fade type of song that seems to hark back to her divorce. Illusions Of Bliss is an awesome & heart breaking-ly beautiful song about the wool we pull over our own eyes, thinking that because something is safe it should be the right thing. Once again the lovelorn actions of a person who wanted things to work out so badly but knowing that it’s going to break eventually, is what drives this song. A lot more positive is the next track; Loving You Is Easy is about the rush of being in a relationship and being in love.
Changes is about the things that change when one member of the family leaves when a divorce happens. Clearly most of the album is personal & based on Aswin Sood & Sarah’s divorce. Forgiveness is about the bitter taste of betrayal, wanting & longing for better times which the singer needs but knows that it can’t come back. Also that because of the betrayal forgiving the subject of this song is beyond her. Rivers Of Love is about creating an analogy of relationships & desire and the rough path that you must travel to make your journey through it. Someone who has long waited for love and accepting of the highs & lows which accompany it will want to use Love Comes as their theme music. When you want to shut the crazy & desperate world out and leave everything beyond it, you need some sanity to hold onto, something that is good & pure just like in the haunting Out Of Tune.
Heartbreak is about the illusion we have that if we run fast enough we might stay clear of heartbreak, pain & sadness. Like trying trying to outrun the inevitable grievances. The next two songs, also about her breakup with her ex-husband, appeared on her best hits compilation. Still, Don’t Give Up On Us is a melancholic, melodic & heartfelt number about some hope during a breakup or rough patch in a relationship. The beautiful piano driven U Want Me 2 was already released as a single to promote her best of album and it’s a heart-wrenching tale of heart break when you finally give up on your relationship.Finally we have a cover version Susan Enan’s Bring On The Wonder, which, by now, is very familiar to McLachlan fans who go to her concerts – although her largely a capella version is breathtaking. Very enjoyable, just like all her stuff, it’s an album that is bittersweet and melancholic. Sarah at her best.