Sarah Mclachlan. You might know her for a few things. The song Angel. Her tear-jerking ASPCA commercials. Being Canadian. Lilith Fair. However, in my opinion, she is so much more than this and is totally underrated as an artist.
My journey of listening to Sarah Mclachlan started when I was very little because my mother loved to play her live album Mirrorball in the car. I always enjoyed her soothing voice, but at this point in my life, I was more interested in listening to Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood (whom I both love), as well as other more teeny bop, popular musicians. My love for her resurfaced though when my acupuncturist who I saw when I was in the 4th-6th grade (yes, I really did start acupuncture that young, lol) played her Afterglow album while I was getting treatment. This really helped me relax and evoked my imagination while I was lying on the table with needles in me. As you can probably guess, it is not easy for a squirmy, ADD ten year old to just lay there and unwind for 50 minutes. Sarah Mclachlan made it a lot easier for me.
The day my obsession with her music surpassed my mother was when I started high school and was really struggling with loneliness, depression, finding my place in the world, and understanding society. I usually don’t listen or try to interpret lyrics as I like to focus on the voice/instrumentals, but Sarah Mclachlan forced me to listen. Unlike many other artists, Sarah Mclachlan writes about the human experience. She writes about growing up, tense family relationships, passion, betrayal, rising above circumstances, death, loss, the dissolution of relationships, hope, everything really. You may or may not have noticed that 99% of songs are about romantic love. While Sarah Mclachlan writes a lot about romantic love, her music differs as she goes into the deepness of it. The words she uses to describe a relationship makes you feel like you’re in the relationship even if you’ve never had one. This is especially evident in the lyrics of her song Stupid when sings,
“Love has made me a fool set me on fire and watched as I floundered
Unable to speak except to cry out and wait for your answer
But you come around in your time speaking of fabulous places create
An oasis that dries up as soon as you’re gone
You leave me here burning in this desert without you”
Sarah Mclachlan feels things deeply and this is definitely evident in all of her songs. It’s almost as though she’s letting you inside her head and I feel like emotional, intense thinkers will be able to relate to her lyrics. While I can’t say I’ve ever dated or known someone like in her song Building a Mystery, the lyrics are the ones I’ve pondered on the most out of all of her songs. These lines particularly resonate with me,
“You live in a church
Where you sleep with voodoo dolls
And you won’t give up the search
For the ghosts in the halls
You wear sandals in the snow
And a smile that won’t wash away
Can you look out the window
Without your shadow getting in the way?”
She writes with sophistication but without pretentiousness. Her songs are raw and real, and feel as though you are listening to the finest of poetry. However, like I said earlier, voice and instrumentals are just as, if not more important to me than lyrics. Sarah Mclaclahlan’s voice has an earthy, distinctive quality to it, but unlike other earthy sounding musicians, her voice is easy to listen to. She also has the ability to sing extremely, extremely high, almost like an opera singer. The instrumentals on her songs are also unique and give her easy listening songs a rock sound quality, which therefore, makes for some really phonoaesthetically pleasing songs.
She is also just as phenomenal of a person as she is a singer. She created a ground breaking all female singer-song writer festival that was created to dispel the myth that women couldn’t be played back to back to one another. She also created The Sarah Mclachlan School of Music, a free music school designed for at risk youth. I also went to a concert of hers two years ago and it was an extremely intimate experience. She had a couch on her stage and selected people got to come up on the couch during a break in the concert and meet her. Sarah was extremely gracious and kind to those who were on the stage. Additionally, she had people write questions and put them in a hat. Then, she answered a few of the questions for the audience. It was by far one of the most interactive musical experiences I’ve ever had.
I’d highly recommend checking her out and not just her biggest hits. She has a huge library of music and there are very few songs of hers that I don’t like or feel meh about. I’ve created two playlists, an intro to Sarah Mclachlan playlist and a playlist for those who are familiar with some of her work.
Intro to Sarah Mclachlan Playlist:
4.) I Will Remember You
6.) Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
7.) Good Enough
9.) Sweet Surrender
10.) Building a Mystery
Other Incredible, Epic Sarah Mclachlan Songs:
3.) Black and White
4.) In Your Shoes
10.) Don’t Give Up On Us