The Varsity - Arts and Culture

Sarah McLachlan

Four years, a few world tours and many B-sides following the release of her breakthrough Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Sarah McLachlan finally comes to the surface.

"We all have a dark side," she admits in recent press. "It's bullshit to say that we don't. At some point we're going to have to face that."

While previous records displayed an artist often lead toward plaintive laments of love and loss, Surfacing unveils a stronger, more in-control McLachlan. NO longer burdened with misery, she builds a mystery, writing about the life under the microscope of her new-found celebrity on the lead single, "Building a Mystery." Idol conversation aside, she wraps her elegant vocals around songs of love found on "I Love You" and "Sweet Surrender".

Solace and Fumbling producer Pierre Marchand is behind the soundboard again, pitching in on the songwriting end and accompanying Sarah on bass, keyboards, and drum machines to assure a sonically and musically expressive record. The tendency here is to lean toward sparse instrumentation, letting the songs sing for themselves.

What Surfacing is surprisingly short on is up-tempo material -- especially suprising considering that McLachlan married her percussionist, Ashwin Sood. Two songs, "Angel" and the aforementioned "I Love You" are carried only by the faint pulses of a drum machine.

There's enough strong material here to make it a worthwhile listen, certainly to ensure solid sets at her Lilith Fair. The enhanced CD-ROM portion of Surfacing will also be of interest to computer buffs with time on their hands to cruise through biographies, a catalogue of merchandise, web links and videos.

Don Ward

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