Newest Review: ... of the songs on 'Laws of Illusion'. Of the twelve tracks one that immediately stood out to me was 'Illusions of Bliss' which is probably t... more
I'm under the illusion that her older work is better
Laws of Illusion - Sarah Mclachlan
Member Name: hayley_dl
Laws of Illusion - Sarah Mclachlan
Date: 16/05/11, updated on 16/05/11 (37 review reads)
Advantages: wonderful voice, magical quality, relaxing
Disadvantages: not her best, tracks very similar
I've been a massive Sarah McLachlan fan for several years and have collected the vast majority of her albums. So, when she released her new album Laws of Illusion there was never any question of whether or not I should buy it.
Laws of Illusion is Sarah's first album in two years. She released Closer, a best of, in 2008. The last album with original tracks was Afterglow which was released in 2003 so there's been a long wait for this new album.
Several of the songs on this album have been written about Sarah's recent breakup with her husband.
I've struggled to find much information on this album, there's little information provided on the CD sleeve or case but the information I have managed to find is:
Producer: Pierre Marchand
Mixer: Pierre Marchand
Recording engineers: Pierre Marchand, Chris Potter and Pascal Shefteshy
Mixing Assistant: Pascal Shefteshy
Publisher: Tyde Music (except Bring on the wonder which is published by Feast Music Group)
Most songs written by Sarah McLachlan and Pierre Marchand, Bring on the Wonder written by Susan Enan.
Illusions of Bliss
Loving You Is Easy
Rivers Of Love
Out Of Tune
Don't Give Up On Us
U Want Me 2
Bring On The Wonder
Love Come (Piano version)
This isn't an easy album to describe or even really to form an opinion of which is a bit of a shame really because I've always loved her work so it's unusual for me to sit on the fence. However after listening to this album several times some of the songs have begun to grow on me.
This track starts with a very repetative riff which is quickly followed by the keyboard. This goes on for 30 seconds at which point the vocals join in. Sarah's voice is very difficult to describe but is crystal clear and very unique. It fits perfectly with her style and this track is no exception.
This song has a lot of variety starting and ending quite quietly and softly but there is a part fairly close to the end that is a lot more lively. A brilliant track to start the CD on.
*Illusions of Bliss*
This starts with a strong guitar and drum beat but this fades within seconds as the vocals come in. It does however continue to have quite a clear beat carried through on both the drums and guitar. However as with most of her songs the instrumental is nothing more then just background music with the vocals carrying the song through.
She has a wonderfully soft voice that carries the song through to completion well and blends in perfectly with the background music.
*Loving You Is Easy*
Another one with a strong beat, much stronger then the last and this is amplified by the keyboard playing nothing more then one chord per beat.
Nothing too special here and although I'm reluctant to call it a filler as it isn't too bad a song it's definitely not one of her best either.
Opens with the vocals and instrumental coming straight in. Sarah's wonderfully slightly husky but clear voice works very well in this song and really explores most of her range. There's small parts here and there with just the bass, keyboard and her voice which I find works very well to bring out the important parts of this song and emphasise certain lyrics without which, this song just wouldn't have the same effect.
Again opening with nothing more then her vocals and the piano which is all there is for the first minute and a half. I'm hesitant to call this a ballad but it is bordering on that kind of song with the slower tempo. However there is an element of sadness which is evident throughout the whole of the song and which you can't help but let affect you. It's obvious from this song alone how much the breakup affected her.
"You ask for forgiveness, you're asking too much. I have sheltered my heart in a place you cant touch."
*Rivers Of Love*
Opening with nothing more then the keyboard which is quickly followed by the vocals. As with the last one this has a slower tempo and begins with nothing more then just the piano and vocals. The drums join in after around a minute but only very softly. They're there purely to add an extra bit of emphasis to certain parts. The vocals and piano carry the majority of this song through to it's end.
A filler as far as I'm concerned. It has a repetitive tune played on the keyboard over and over throughout the song and the drums carry the bear. Not the most exciting track on the CD by any means and the keyboard repetition borders on almost annoying and at places overpowers the vocals.
*Out Of Tune*
Starting with a strong beat on the drums with the piano joining in fairly quickly. However unlike most of her songs there isn't any particular tune being played on the piano, more simple chords to add to the effect of the drums.
There's a sense of dischord throughout this song that although is reflected in the music itself it almost seems to come from outside the music. Before anyone tells me I'm going mad I do realize that that's not possible! It's just the sense that I get coming from the music.
A strangely up tempo song given the title! Three's several instruments that bring in this song but I can't place any besides the song. There's a sense of longing in the vocals but this isn't depressing or disheartening at all, I think the tempo of this song helps to lift up what would otherwise be quite a depressing song.
Another one that has been clearly influenced by her separation.
*Don't Give Up On Us*
The title of this song says it all. Sarah described it as being about "a plea to give it another chance and keep trying."
A slightly slower song that's very expressive in its lyrics and instrumental. Despite the upset and hurt that she must have been feeling when she wrote this it's not disheartening or upsetting at all. Instead there's a sense of hope that's evident throughout this that begins to affect you too.
*U Want Me 2*
Sarah described this as being "about that really uncertain, confusing place at the end of a relationship when there's no communication or closure, everything's still up in the air and there's a lot of anger and sadness. It's sort of that working through 'How do we move forward with some dignity and grace."
This opens with the piano which is quickly followed by the keyboard and drums. The keyboard is slightly dischordant with the piano but this provides a sense of unrest that carries through this song. Sarah's description of a "uncertain, confusing place" is completely reflected in the music. It's quite an unsettling song but not in a bad way. It's done very cleverly and attracts your attention right from the start and keeps it through to the end.
The lyrics themselves are very personal, almost as if you're listening to a personal conversation that you shouldn't really be privy to.
*Bring On The Wonder*
A quieter, softer and slower song that's completely dischordant. Mostly it's just Sarah's vocals but it's layered so that she's dischordant with herself. Again quite unsettling but nothing that's too unlike some of her older songs if you've heard them.
There's almost a magical quality about how this is mainly her vocals and piano and the way her vocals have been layered to clash with themselves is extremely effective.
Now, when I started writing about the songs I realize I was fairly critical of this album. I'm choosing to leave that as I do feel that criticism is fair to a degree. However, as I've listened through is for the sake of this review I've actually realized it's not too bad an album.
It's not as good as her older work in my opinion and so those of you looking for more of her older work will be disappointed. This is what I expected when I bought this and this is where the criticism has come from. Also, apparently her elder daughter said that it "all sounds the same"; I agree. Many of the songs on this album are quite similar and for this reason it's not easy to listen to all the way through. It's easy to see how her breakup has affected this album in both the music itself and the lyrics but this is cleverly balanced to ensure that the album itself isn't depressing. It's more relaxing then anything else and her voice, as always, has a certain kind of magic to it helped by its uniqueness that's so impossible to describe.
Price, Availability And Recommendation
I bought my copy from HMV for £10. A quick google is showing it as now available for £8.99 or there is a deluxe edition including a DVD for £11.99. It is also available for download from itunes for £7.99.
I would recommend this album if you're already fans of Sarah McLachlan just be aware of the criticisms I have made here and be prepared to listen to it more then once as it will need to grow on you. For those of you who aren't fans already then you won't like this, if however you are unsure most of the songs from this album are available in full on youtube.
It's a hard one to recommend and for that reason I'm only giving it three out of five, this may be a little on the harsh side but it's not her best album. I am however glad I have my copy and will be buying her next album.
Summary: I'm happy I have mine but it's hard to recommend