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Music Review: McLachlan returns with an ‘Afterglow’

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by Rima Thompson
Arts Editor

After a five-year hiatus, singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan is back with her latest disc, “Afterglow.”

Released on Nov. 4, the album is a follow-up to her 1997 breakthrough album, “Surfacing.”

“Fallen,” the first single off the album, is a harmonious tune where McLachlan sings about being alienated from those she loved because of past mistakes. It is a serene and eerie song that allows her vocals to rise and fall as the song demands.

In “World on Fire,” she explores the emotional aftermath of Sept. 11. Her voice is haunting and emotive, and the melodies are easy to recognize and sing.

“Stupid,” a song about insecurity and inner healing, has guitars that pulsate with despair so that when she sings, “How stupid could I be. A simpleton could see that you’re no good for me. But you’re the only one I see,” we hear the disappointment in herself as she agonizes over an ex-lover.

“Answer” is a melancholy song in which McLachlan, yet again, sings about a lover searching for “Mrs. Right.” Not realizing that “Mrs. Right” has always been by his side.

In “Answer,” her voice soars with heartfelt emotions and exudes warm, sorrowful whispers of sadness.

McLachlan’s expressive voice with the driving piano accompaniment brings a certain depth to the song.

“Perfect,” is a beautifully written song that explores the need for acceptance as well as perfecting and sacrificing one’s self to gain the love of another, but realizing that one will never be perfect enough in the other person’s eyes.

“Dirty Little Secret,” is a haunting piece about the damaging effects of secrets and sins being exposed.

It is an emotional masterpiece that has contrasting tones of the chorus and a mellow piano accompaniment.

Other songs on the album include “Drifting,” “Train Wreck,” “Push” and “Time.”

Pierre Marchand, McLachlan’s musical partner from previous albums, co-wrote two of the 10 songs and produced the album. McLachlan wrote the rest of the tracks.

McLachlan’s most noticeable musical attribute on this album, as well as previous albums, is the emotional liveliness of her voice.

While not a prolific writer, she is able to deliver carefully executed songs.

However, one of the albums’ two falters is that there are only 10 songs.

After five years away from the music industry, it is hard to imagine that she did not write at least a dozen songs that could have gone on the album. But still, $15.99 for 10 songs is well worth the expense.

Another problem with the album is the musical similarity of all the songs. While it makes for easy transition from one song to the next, it can at times become too repetitive and boring.

“Afterglow” may not reach the commercial success of McLachlan’s “Surfacing” album, but it is a welcomed change at a time where computer-generated and overly sensationalized singers like Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Ashanti oversaturate the market.

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