Sarah remains the same
Sarah McLachlan has emerged from a five-year winter, this time with long hair and a golden-colored CD filled with her usual fare of beautifully uncomplicated songs. In Afterglow we are again treated to her gentle voice, slow rhythms, and quotable lyrics. However, unlike her previous work, this album comes across as slightly over-processed, a dimmer version of her original spark.
This could just be because it did not meet my expectations. From this latest studio album, I was hoping for some new element: new instruments, new rhythms, or new insights. Instead, we get Sarah aged, like a good cheese: a bit more of a bite, but essentially the same. This is not a bad thing, considering how her previous albums still enter my player on repeat. But for an innovator, it is disappointing to get more of the same.
"Fallen," a song frequenting the radio airwaves, has McLachlan's characteristic gentle, swaying rhythms and brooding lyrics. But the third track, "Stupid," wakes up with its contrasting mellow introduction and intense chorus, allowing it to stand free from the rest of the tracks.
Another mix of contrasts exists in "Time," which floats on a mixture of a slow beats underneath a series of driving notes that offer a dreamy foundation for the melody. The last track, "Dirty Little Secret," is quieter than the rest, offering up Sarah at her purest and, quite possibly, her best.
The question remains, is it possible to get too much of a good thing? Is it possible to eat too much chocolate ice cream? Of course not. Afterglow is the perfect CD for afternoon walks, dancing in socks, or going for a drive to the ocean. But this is precisely what sets it apart from her earlier work: it's a CD for the periphery of other activities, rather than one that you can sit still to listen to.
For longtime Sarah fans, the album is a worthy buy and will provide plenty of songs for happy harmonizing. For new fans, I'd recommend buying one of her earlier albums first before moving onto this one.
3.3 polar bears of 4
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