It’s been seven years since Sarah McLachlan released Afterglow, her last album of original material. That’s a lifetime in the pop world, perhaps, but McLachlan handles her absence well, filling Laws of Illusion with the same sort of adult contemporary fare that made her a star in the first place. The market has changed since McLachlan’s late-‘90s heyday; pop starlets like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift are now among the industry’s most highly prized female songwriters, making McLachlan seem a bit staid and outdated by comparison. With the 2010 revival of Lilith Fair, though, she has somewhat reconstructed the world as it existed a decade ago, and Laws of Illusion furthers the fantasy by taking its cues from Clinton-era folk-pop. It’s an album that aims to soothe rather than startle, replete with wistful, lovelorn lyrics and McLachlan’s signature arrangements -- a mix of new age atmospherics and singer/songwriter ambience -- courtesy of longtime producer Pierre Marchand. As he’s done in the past, Marchand splits his time between highlighting McLachlan’s voice with intimate piano chords and piling the orchestrations high, although the two devote more time to ballads this time around. In general, though, McLachlan simply sounds like McLachlan here, seemingly unaged by the seven years that have elapsed since her last record and unconcerned with new trends.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey