(16 March 2009) A fan of Sarah McLachlan since 1993, I pretty much own every album she has ever created including rare mixes and b-sides. Originally Sarah started out as a celtic influenced new-agey folk emerging artist but as her sound grew so did her fame and quickly she launched into an international folk/pop star merging into the strong independent woman we know so well. Closer: The Best of Sarah McLachlan (Nettwerk Productions (USA) 0 6700 30823 2 7, 2008) is a stellar album containing favorite beloved pieces from her albums: Touch, Solace, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Surfacing, Mirrorball and Afterglow. It also includes two fresh new tracks to please all her fans.
I suppose the reason she is loved by so many is that she has a fragile delicateness about her that underlies a flinty edge. She speaks the truth with heavy lyrics and a smooth silvery voice but with a lusty sensuality that gives her songs dynamic and dimension. Iíve had a deeper sense of respect for this singer ever since she started the Lilith fair which celebrated female singers and turned the spotlight on emerging talents and empowered woman everywhere. A musician but also a humanitarian, Sarah has also donated to charitable organizations around the world including CARE, Engineers Without Borders, Help The Aged, Warchild, and Heifer International. Sarah has raised over seven million dollars from her Lillith fair tour which was donated to charities and womenís shelters across North America. She is also a spokeswoman for animal rights, and she started an outreach music Program for Inner City Youths called the SMMO Arts Umbrella Project.
As a singer/songwriter myself, I fell in love with her songs in Junior high and would listen to her Touch and Fumbling Towards Ecstasy CDs repeatedly for weeks and weeks. She was one of the most influential artists in my life and gave me hopes and dreams of becoming stronger and brighter as a person and an artist. So needless to say I was thrilled when she decided to release a carefully chosen collection of her very best songs. It is wonderful to see the refinement over the years as her music evolved with time and experience dating from 1988 to 2009. You will not be disappointed with her song choices.
"Vox" from her Touch (1989) album was an excellent commencement for the album with cheerful melodies and a celtic/world flavor. My absolute favorite song of Sarah's is "Ben's Song" so I was sad it wasn't chosen but "Vox" was still and excellent choice. Reminiscent of Enya and Clannad this song has a driving operatic sound.
"The Path of Thorns (Terms)" is a bluesy gutsy song with an early 90s feel about devotional love to a man who strays. It has hints of Indigo Girls and Joni Mitchel flavors which spice this song quite nicely.
"Into the Fire" is a grittier darker side of Sarah. With an industrial 90s sound with a hint of Sinead O'Connor's splashy attitude and wicked sadness, people will enjoy the flashback and Sarah's complex harmonies and frustrated emotional vocals. Sarah chose "Possession" from her Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993) album which like a phoenix from the flames she completely comes into her own. I can no longer compare her to any artist for she has finally emerged into her full regal grandiose self. Here is where you hear yearning, soul, radiant harmonies, and the smoldering voice that pierces your heart.
"Hold On," also from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, is such a great song with spiritual undertones. Her lyrics are suggestive and her voice is saturated with emotion and incredible control. My favorite lyrics are "Am I in heaven here or am I in hell? The crossroads I am standing. But now youíre sleeping peaceful lying awake and unafraid. You'll be strong tomorrow and we'll see another day and we will praise it and light the love that brings a smile across your face." "Good Enough" is a slower ballad about friendship, love, and trust. She has a sincere and fragile innocence in her vocals which paints the picture for her future song "Angel."
"Building A Mystery," a Grammy award winning track from Surfacing (1997) shows Sarah's vocal prowess at the height of her career. Her Diamond-certified (10X platinum) album was on the Billboard chart at Number Two and she was just pioneering her Lillith Fair tour with amazing female singers. "Sweet Surrender" has fun pop-filled driving beats with layers of texture, smooth sensual vocals, evocative lyrics, and alluring siren harmonies which blend well on this song. "Adia" has such an appealing melody. Its whimsical and fresh with a gentle grace. Itís one of those seemingly innocent songs that invade your mind and wonít leave for days.
"Angel" launched Sarah into a different stratosphere when it was placed on the major motion picture "City of Angels" where the song hit Number One on the Billboard charts. Probably the most heart rendering song she has ever released to date, "Angel" hits the core of your soul. Her sweet, tender, lovingly calm voice glides over the notes and lyrics like a lullaby. Anyone can relax and feel humbled by this song. Sarah's third Grammy Award winner, "I Will Remember You (Live)," from her album Mirrorball (1999) released during her Lilith Fair Tour, is stunning. There's something so raw and exquisite about live songs--an energy that simply canít be reinvented in a recording studio. The live version is so incredibly different than her studio version.
"Fallen" is from the Afterglow (2003) album. It has a lush warm music bed and Sarah's voice is stronger with more depth and feeling which I can only assume are simply from experience. The gorgeous swelling strings and harmonies are perfect and the chorus is melodic and catchy. After years of waiting for new music it was refreshing to find that Afterglow proved Sarah still had what it takes to be a soulful creature of music. "Stupid" is a fiery impulsively wild song. It starts slow and smooth but when the chorus hits itís gritty, power driven, and tempestuous. I love the complexity of this song and the bridge "Everything Changes, everything falls apart, I canít stand to feel myself losing control, in the deep of my weakness I know" was sublime.
"World On Fire" has sacred feelings and radiant harmonies. She's a mystique of the otherworld on this song singing about birth, life, death, humanity and everything in between. "Donít Give Up On Us" is a fresh new song featured exclusively on this album. The bluesy sexy side of Sarah shines through on this song. Smooth with a gliding voice and angelic harmonies and a heavenly music bed all mixed with a modern sound. This song stretches her musical ability to a new level. The ending is resplendent and exquisite. Released as a single prior to the Closer album, "U Want Me 2" (2008) is a great farewell to over two decades of music she has birthed. This new sound of hers is deeper and more authentic; she truly has grown as an artist. This song is about losing love and trying to find a compromise a meeting ground between the gap of disinterest and trying to find that spark of love to reignite the passion when love falls apart.
I was thrilled with the song choices on Closer, but with her two new songs it has put a hunger in me for more new music. I really hope she releases a new album with all new material and takes all her passion and experience from her previous recordings and dreams up yet new artistic sensibilities. She has a gift that can lift the hearts of millions and I pray she immerses herself fully into her music at least for one last album. I highly recommend this exceptional collection of songs to any fan new or old who enjoys a wide array of songs worth of substantial material created by an eight-time Juno and Four-time
Grammy Award Winner. Her music has made an impact on the world and I hope she continues to do so.--Gabrielle Angelique in Augusta, Georgia