country diva channels marriage break-on first LP in nearly a decade
Her first studio outing in seven years (apart from a terrific Christmas album, Wintersong) Laws of Illusion comes in the wake of the end of McLachlan's marriage to her long-time drummer Ashwin Sood. Like Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks, Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker, and Lucinda Williams' West, this a break-up album in the grand tradition of the genre, replete with themes of loss, loneliness and disappointment.
Apart from the circumstances of its making, however, not much else has changed in her approach. That angelic voice remains instantly familiar, while her effortless way with a melody is present and correct on songs like the relatively upbeat recent single 'Loving You Is Easy' and tender ballad 'Forgiveness'.
Lyrically, there's more than a hint of bitterness contained within these raw, revealing compositions. "I have sheltered my heartache in a place you can't touch," she sings on 'Forgiveness', while she delves even deeper into her obvious pain on the aptly-named 'Heartbreak': "I know you'd like me to crumble, reveal myself to you." However, there's a sense of hope on the gorgeous 'Don't Give Up On Us' ("you don't need to be without these loving arms") and, despite its throwaway Prince-like title, 'U Want Me 2', appears to be a genuine attempt at reconciliation
On some of the lesser numbers ('Changes', 'Love Come') she falls back on a McLachlan-by-numbers style, while the pace rarely departs beyond a mid-tempo lilt.Meantime, her long-time producer Pierre Marchand adds some new-agey textures and a gossamer sheen to McLachlan's singer-songwriter mannerisms, an approach that has served her well over the years. A very good record.