Sarah McLachlan

Nettwerk / Arista Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


You've got to hand it to Sarah McLachlan: she knows how to keep herself in the media eye in the good sense.

Not only is she kicking off the third (and supposedly final) installment of the Lilith Fair concert series, but she also has one cut on each of the recently released compilations from the tour. Now, on top of all that, McLachlan has released her first full-length live disc, Mirrorball, to add to her already-growing legend as an alterna-pop superstar. (McLachlan's previous live effort, Sarah McLachlan Live, was a limited-edition disc that is no longer available. Thanks to Armand at Nettwerk for the information.)

You also have to say this much for McLachlan: she knows how to keep the material interesting and lively, even if it's a song you've heard a hundred times before. Mirrorball is an excellent live disc that drarfs the few cuts she put onto the Lilith Fair discs, and is one of the better live albums I've heard in a while.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Note that I'm saying this about a disc that commits what I call the cardinal sin of live albums: fading in and out of tracks. When I normally listen to a live album, I expect to feel like I'm actually at the show, listening to the natural flow of the tracks and taking in the energy of the moment. But somehow, Mirrorball feels right being broken up like this. Don't ask me to explain why, 'cause I can't.

Oh, sure, you could look at this disc as a greatest hits collection (odd for someone who only has only three full-length albums on the market), but Mirrorball is much more. It's capturing the true soul of McLachlan on stage, even to the point of uttring words that she couldn't say on the radio as on "Building A Mystery". Such utterances from McLachlan might turn some listeners' heads for a second, only because it catches them off-guard. But frankly, the instance in "Building A Mystery" seems like the adjective in question was always there.

"I Will Remember You," the song presently getting the airplay, is a decent enough take on a song that I found to be a little too sleepy when its studio counterpart came out. But McLachlan knows how to inject a littl extra life into these performances, making each track just different enough from the studio versions, but not radically different. Tracks like "Possession" benefit from this attack.

Some songs might not be familiar to the fans of McLachlan who know only her work on the radio, so Mirrorball serves as a nice introduction to tracks like "The Path Of Thorns (Terms)", "Do What You Have To Do" and "Fear". If I had one complaint about Mirrorball, it's that I kind of wish the key that "Angel" is sung in had been dropped to the level it was at in the studio. Even a note or two higher, it doesn't sound quite right - and this is a song that I absolutely love.

The disc comes with an enhanced CD portion, but all I found the time to explore was the catalog, allowing you to buy other CDs and merchandise from McLachlan and Lilith Fair. I guess this is the modern equivalent of the merchandising insert one used to find in albums and tapes.

Mirrorball is a disc that captures the essence of McLachlan's many facets, and puts them into a package that everyone can enjoy from the moment the shrink wrap is ripped off. Don't be surprised if you have a difficult time getting this one out of the CD changer all summer long.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nettwerk / Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.