Some of you may remember back in IHR #72 Derek and I talked a bit about the “suckage” factor in new music and then, a few shows later (can’t seem to determine which one) we chatted a bit about established artists getting into a comfortable “rut”.
Tony and Dave over at the Home Made Hitshow have recently been eluding to this in their “what we’re listening to now” segments on their show. Tony’s lamented that bands like the New Pornographers and Band of Horses have produced some decent new albums, but nothing extraordinary. The new records are “working-man” albums as he puts it – holding the status quo.
One of the artists I called out in the IHR show I can’t remember, was Sarah Mclachlan.
She’s just released a new album entitled: Laws of Illusion.
I was introduced to Sarah’s music through the Canadian Music TV station: MuchMusic back in the ’90’s. Her early albums Solace and Touch were a mix of pop and melancholy – definitely a new sound, a new voice and there was an edge that was quite cool about her stuff.
When Pierre Marchand took more of the producing reigns with Fumbling Towards Ecstacy, then that’s when I perked up and thought – wow, there’s some really cool stuff here! There was still the edge, but there were some new sounds, there were twists and turns in the album. She had a different sound from the previous two albums and a fantastic evolution with rhythms and harmonies.
That’s unfortunately the last album of hers that I can say I listen to more than once. Everything since seems to have been a derivative of Fumbling. Surfacing and Afterglow, at least to me, were just compilations of predictable sounds, instrumentation and pace. She’d stuck with Pierre Marchand and unfortunately, both of them seemed to be content recreating the sound of Fumbling.
On her latest album, Pierre is still a collaborator / producer, but I have to say that I was perked up a bit with a bit of a change in the sound … at least for the first few tracks. There was actually a BEAT. There was some GROOVE. And some of the chord progressions went somewhere else unexpected for a change. I was just about poised to press “buy” in iTunes, but thought I’d better listen to the rest of the tracks.
I heard a bit of a change in the sound, there’s a definite pace change (at least in the beginning) in this album – it’s heading toward more upbeat, and there also seems to be more of an “edge” to the sound reminiscent of her pre-Fumbling days. I even heard a singing saw blade???
Unfortunately, beyond the first three tracks, I didn’t hear anything that was a significant deviation from the pace and style she’s been comfortable with the last 10+ years. I don’t know, I may have to go back and take a listen to the tracks again and play them in reverse to see if there’s anything that might cause me to listen more than once.
Nothing against Sarah and Pierre, but I think they should take a break from each other – nothing like the divorce between Sarah and Ashwin Sood, but maybe something that REALLY pushes her out of the comfort zone.