Sarah McLachlan

Shine On

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Shine On captures Sarah McLachlan at a period of transition, switching labels (she's signed with Verve after decades at Arista) and experiencing the death of her father and divorce from her husband. Some of this turbulence can be heard underneath the surface of Shine On -- explicitly so on "Song for My Father" and "Broken Heart," whose titles give their game away -- but the defining characteristic of this seventh McLachlan studio album is not despair but rather hope. Certainly, there is melancholy here -- a feeling that surfaces in the slower, gentler moments, the kind of sound that is heavily associated with McLachlan's mid-'90s hits -- but there's also a surprising, resilient buoyancy here, manifesting itself in big, ringing adult alternative pop tunes that pepper the album. Surrounding these songs -- the best of which are "In Your Shoes" and "Monsters" -- are those signature McLachlan swoons, the surprisingly soulful "Love Beside Me" and an effective, swinging coda called "The Sound That Love Makes" that's built on a simple ukulele but soon expands. Shine On, as a whole, has a similar trajectory; it starts from simple, sad emotions, then builds out into an embrace of love and life.

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