Sarah McLachlan plays a rare summer gig

It's been more than two years since Sarah McLachlan released her gorgeous breakthrough album, "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy," and it'll be another year before her next disc hits stores.

Now McLachlan is a little nervous. But just a little.

"The trouble is, I really loved 'Fumbling,' and I can't imagine topping it," she says with a laugh. "Not because I sold 2 million records. I just feel like it was the 'one,' it was the great album of my career."

McLachlan headlines an all-star female lineup tonight at Pine Knob, one of only five gigs she'll do this summer. She's laying off the road to write songs for her next effort - a disc that may end up filled with "weird little country songs."

Meantime, she's trying to stay clearheaded about the shot of success that come from the lush, candid "Fumbling," released after a topsy- turvy half-decade in the business.

"It could be five people or 500,000 - it's the same to me," she says. "I just don't look at it in those ways. My whole thing is, I have to write great songs, or great in my mind. They have to be really, really strong, and have to come from an honest place. That's my only prerequisite."

She talked this week from home in Vancouver, about:

Tonight's Unusual Bill: Basically I wanted to do a whole tour with a bunch of women. Not necessarily as a reaction to the Lollapaloozas of the world, but just to prove to everybody that, hey, more than two girls on the same bill will sell tickets, guys! Surprise, surprise. So I put together a wish list and had my agent phone up their people, all that stuff, and almost everybody we phoned responded. It turned out great.

Her Music-Listening Habits: I usually don't listen at all. Usually when a record gets put on, it's my boyfriend putting it on. And then we're pressing "play" only because it's Emmylou Harris' "Wrecking Ball" or Willie Nelson's "Stardust." I can't listen to anybody else's music when I'm in the writing mode, because it'll just start sounding like them, and I don't want to do that. So when I want to hear music, I go play.

Writing For The New Album: I've been going for about six months, trying to straighten out my head and body from being on the road for two years, and trying to write. A lot of it's sounding like old country music. I'm really in the early stages, and I've only got four songs half-written. The longer we're out on the road, the more I have to shut myself down to survive. And coming home, it takes a long time to get back and open those doors again.

Her Country Music Kick: I've been so drawn to old country music lately. It's so beautiful, and romantic. I'm on that whole trip right now: I'm in love, and I have a garden, and we're getting a puppy. It's heavy, beautiful life stuff, and country music is singing to my heart right now.

Webmaster Julian C. Dunn ([email protected])