Album Review: Afterglow by Sarah McLachlan

Album Name: Afterglow
Artist: Sarah McLachlan
Year/Label: 2003 / Nettwerk

[Buy at Amazon]

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

So let’s get one thing straight, I am a Sarah McLachlan geek. Everyone I know makes fun of me because my CD case has two rows of Sarah discs. I have every commercial release, every bootleg (well, most of them) and almost every single. I love her. I have ever since I heard the first notes of “Into the Fire” somewhere around 1992 and I probably always will. But I am not one of those people who cannot be objective and think that she can do no wrong. So keep that in mind when reading the following gush.

Well if you haven’t heard “Fallen” yet, you might be living under a rock. I knew right away when I heard this song that “Afterglow” would be a vast improvement over “Surfacing”. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think “Surfacing” was bad, per se. It was still 100% better than almost anything anyone else has ever put out, but it just wasn’t up to par for Sarah (in MY opinion). I know I am not the only one who holds this opinion, and I don’t want to anger those who don’t agree with me, but to know I didn’t care for it much should prove how good this release is.

That being said, WOW! I do not have an advance copy of this CD (not for lack of begging Nettwerk for one) but I am a member of her fan club (geeky, I know, that’s me) so I was able to listen to the whole album online. If you’re not a member go ahead and join. It’s only $10 (down from $30 in previous years) and you get cool stuff. OK enough of that, onto the music.

This is a beautiful CD, I am so happy to report. I don’t normally review a CD by mentioning each song, but…well, this is Sarah and I’ve been waiting for a long time.

“Fallen” is a gorgeous song (with an equally gorgeous accompanying video). For the video Sarah has gone back to what worked for her in 1992 with “Into the Fire”…yep, she’s naked again. It’s a very lovely video. See it here: on Nettwerk’s site

“World on Fire” is lush and rich. It’s got the guitar solo, Ash’s great beats and it feels like home.

“Stupid” uses amazing crescendo and decrescendo that gives me chills. The orchestration is incredible. I can’t wait to hear this song live, I’m pretty sure I’ll be misting up.

“Drifting” takes us back to Sarah’s slower ballad songs. That old wailing guitar that we know and love is there as well and her angelic voice. Could have been on “Fumbling…” high praise indeed.

“Trainwreck” reminds me of old Sarah…real old, good, Sarah. It’s got a great driving drumbeat. It’s not exactly a dance song, but I defy you to sit still while listening. This will probably be the next single.

“Push” is simply gorgeous.

“You’re all the things that I desire
You save me you complete me
You’re the one true thing I know I can believe in…”

*sigh* Fabulous love song to be sung at many weddings to come.

“Answer” is the answer to many a prayer, Sarah back at the piano…who could ask for more. That voice, oh my. This is my favorite track…right now…ask me again in a week.

On “Time” Sarah’s breathy voice and the deep drum together make a stunning combination. The vocals seem “pushed to the front” somehow in production and I feel like she’s sitting next to me singing.

“The Perfect Girl” utilizes lots of background vocals and extra distortions making it quite dimensional and layered.

“Dirty Little Secret” wow, it’s over already? Well this is a nice way to end the recording. I almost hear Randy Newman’s influence here. Not “Short People” but more “When She Loved Me”. The piano is killer.

You can tell these songs had a lot of thought put into them both lyrically and melodically. Each one with it’s own special traits. No “written in 5 minutes” here. If there is, it’s disguised beautifully and further proves her genius. The orchestration and production is luxuriant and full and Sarah’s voice sounds better than ever. “Fumbling… fans rejoice!

Though I’ve only given it a few listens I know this is a CD that I will be enjoying for a long time. It was worth the wait.

Posted on November 1, 2003

Track Listing
1. Fallen
2. World On Fire
3. Stupid
4. Drifting
5. Trainwreck
6. Push
7. Answer
8. Time
9. Perfect Girl
10. Dirty Little Secret

[Sarah McLachlan Official Site]

Amazon

Comments:

Rating: 5 Stars
Comment: The first time I heard Fallen, I was surfing the Real player site, and came across an acustic version (yes, Sarah at the piano once again) singing this hauntingly beautiful piece of music. I just purchased the album, and am sure it will be playing over, and over for a while. Very few women singers have given me chills, but Sarah seems to do it on a regular basis. Might return to comment on the album, but from what little I have heard of it thus far am sure she has hit the nail on the head.
name: Randy

Rating: 5 Stars
Comment: What makes Sarah McLachlan so special is her stunningly beautiful angelic voice, her lyrics, her talent to write some of the most beautiful melodies EVER, her charm, her aura, her talent, just everything about that beautiful woman is so extraordinary, that you might think she’s an angel from heaven! This album will grow on you. The more you’ll listen to it, the more you’ll love it. Her music is timeless. Thank you, Sarah, to make our lives so much more beautiful with your gift.
name: Rob Gre on Friday, December 17, 2004

Rating: 5 Stars
Doesn’t have the hit you in the face top forty hit which is good. Its a CD you can listen to over and over again and love more each time. Deep, meaningful and filled with grace. Not a bad track on it. Definitely subtle in its keying of relationships and political events.
~Erik

Rating: 5 Stars
This is one of the best CD I have ever listened! The lyrics are soooo deep in meaning. Fallen, Time, Dirty little Secret WOW all the songs are simply SUPERB!!!!
Deen

Rating: 5 Stars
OF COURSE 5 STARS! CANT WAIT TO HEAR THE OFFICIAL ALBUM, IN STEAD OF THE INTERNET VERSIONS! I JOIN YOU HALF WAY ON YOUR COLLECTIONS… BUT CATCHING UP! THANKS FOR THE REVIEW!
~Timbuctu86

Order the rest of Sarah’s catalog if you don’t already have it all…come on, you know you want to!

Afterglow (2003)
Mirrorball (LIVE) (1999)
Surfacing (1997)

Freedom Sessions (1995)
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1994)

Solace (1992)
Touch (1989)

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