Music Review: Sarah McLachlan - Shine On

Ya, I know, she hasn't lived in the Maritimes since the end of high school, but it's good to remember McLachlan comes from Halifax. It's good to see her back too, after a four-year break from new albums. Shine On sees a few differences, but plenty of what we're used to as well. Working once again mostly with producer Pierre Marchand, the trademark McLachlan soaring voice and sensitive lyrics are here, and lots of rich, piano-based melodies. I'd say the noticeable difference is a couple more up, pop songs, and a more straight-forward sound, a little less treatment and more chances for the instruments to stand out.

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Shine On starts with it's punchiest numbers. In Your Shoes begins with a bright string quartet imitating a big rhythm guitar chords, joined soon by a good thump from the drums, lead guitar, as close to a rocker as McLachlan gets. That is, until track 2, Flesh and Blood, where some heavy guitar opens the cut. This being McLachlan, that does give away to a piano verse, but then the guitars are back for more sparing on the chorus. It's a pretty sexy song about desire, and has some of her best vocal work, including her upwards soaring and some heavy-breathing harmonies behind. Next up is Monsters, where those spooks under the bed are compared to the sharks on land, trying to take advantage. With its mid-tempo verses building to a big payoff chorus, it's a dead ringer for an Aimee Mann tune, a great departure and my favourite on the album.

With those out of her system, softer sounds dominate the rest of Shine On. The key track is Song For My Father, inspired by his recent death, full of tender memories. For those with the deluxe version, two extra tracks are included, one being a lullaby, Little B, aimed at the precious time when a daughter is young. Nicely, the clarity of the production lets her voice shine. The Sound That Love Makes is pretty much just a ukulele number, and a cover at that, written by her long-serving touring band member Luke Doucet. It's a strong set of songs from start to finish, never too fussy or flighty, highlighting all the best qualities McLachlan possesses.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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