After a bit of time away, the Canadian goddess of mellow music is back. The new album is a continuation of her multi-layered style of emotional story telling. Since her last album Sarah lost her mother to cancer, and has become a mother herself and these two life altering events surface in this album. The tracks are smooth and clean like most of Sarah’s work, but there is a new thread buried in between the notes. Because Sarah now has a daughter to attend to, she writes her songs at a piano instead of on a guitar, and this gives her music a different feel.

My first experience with this album was a bit of disappointment. I’m not sure why, but I felt it was too mellow (even for Sarah). The hit single “Fallen” is probably one of the more up-tempo tracks on the whole album and after hearing this over and over on the radio I had great expectations for the rest of the album. I was a little disappointed when I heard the other tracks.

But like fine wine (and good music), the remaining tracks began to grow on me. I think songs that you like right away tend to burn out too early: I can’t tell you how many albums I have purchased and can’t listen to anymore because the songs just bug me. This isn’t the case for this album; Afterglow will have a long listening shelf life.

My favourite track on this album is no longer “Fallen” but “Time”, an extremely well executed song, containing many layers and dimensions. I really love the back-beat loop, and there is something about it that helps thread the vocals, drums and other voices into a well oiled Sarah McLachlan song. This is what makes this album so good. It isn’t the things you hear the first time around, but the second and third time.

This album is a definite buy for Sarah McLachlan fans. The vocals are clear, and crisp and the writing, as always, is true to Sarah’s emotional style. The tracks tend to be pretty laid back, but, what else were you expecting? Don’t expect boredom to set in anytime soon, because the complexity of Sarah’s music means there are new things to discover every time you pop the disc in the CD player.

Sarah McLachlan
Afterglow (2004)

Genre: Pop, Rock
Record Label: Arista

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