REVIEW: Sarah McLachlan:Mirrorball – The Complete Concert

Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan, who has reached major stardom in Canada and followed up on that by also becoming very popular in the US, has a style of music that’s a little hard to classify. It’s been described as “adult contemporary”, “folk-pop”, “alternative”, and a number of others. Whatever your favorite description of her music, it’s on display with her new 2-disc set, Mirrorball – The Complete Concert, now out on the Arista label.

It’s an expanded and re-mastered version of the original 1998 Mirrorball album, and was recorded in Portland, Oregon, at the final show of the tour. As with most concerts, the songs performed in Portland were many of her best from some of her biggest-selling albums, but even for fans who might already have those, the live concert format – complete with comments and audience interplay – might be appealing. (A song listing, complete with a few clips, is located at the bottom of this review.)

I have a lot of admiration for Sarah’s talent, and although her music isn’t really to my taste I can still recommend this album for prospective fans who would like a comprehensive album with many of her best songs, or for veteran fans who want to upgrade their collection.

Sarah has an outstanding singing voice, clear and powerful when needed, soft when called for, and with a lot of range. That range is demonstrated by the high notes she hits in “Path of Thorns”, by the strength and power of her voice on “Possession” (a song that first brought her to the attention of US listeners) and by the softly lilting “Do What You Have to Do”. She’s also a solid musician, as are her band-mates, who sing a little background on a couple of tunes.

In addition to her singing and playing, her songwriting sets her above some of her contemporaries. And although her songs mostly follow the same format, it would be surprising if they didn’t because Sarah knows what she wants to say and how she wants to say it — and she also knows what her fans want to hear.

I found some of her songs intriguing in their complexity, and if her singing style occasionally left me playing catch-up with the lyrics, I was rescued by the fact that the impressive booklet that comes with the album has the full wording of every song. (Even the R rated ones.) Many of her lyrics struck me as having almost a stream of consciousness feel to them, and although most are serious, I sometimes also got a glimpse of a lighter touch. You could even see it in the titles. For example, “I Will Remember You” is followed by “I Will Not Forget You”, which is surely more than coincidence. Those two songs, along with another whimsically-titled cut, “Ice Cream”, are some of the tunes I found most interesting. Other notables: “Adia”, “Sweet Surrender”, “Hold On”, and “Good Enough”, but Sarah’s fans will like them all.

Sarah McLachlan: Mirrorball – The Complete Concert

Disc 1
1 Building a Mystery 4:23
2 Plenty 3:18
3 Hold On 5:09
4 Good Enough 6:18
5 Do What You Have to Do 4:14
6 Witness 4:50
7 Wait 5:44
8 I Will Remember You 3:36
9 Ice 5:40
10 I Love You 5:44
11 I Will Not Forget You 5:45
Disc 2
1 The Path of Thorns (Terms) 6:32
2 Mary 4:00
3 Adia 3:51
4 Fear 4:44
5 Elsewhere 5:22
6 Vox 5:18
7 Into the Fire 3:46
8 Possession 5:13
9 Ice Cream 4:38
10 Sweet Surrender 4:07
11 Fumbling Towards Ecstasy 6:31
12 Angel 6:13

Buy the album

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