This week I have purchased new albums by Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant and Sarah McLachlan and it’s not even the mid-1990s (let me be the billionth person to make that joke). Although I’m still buying albums so maybe its still the mid 90s for me. Granted they’re all mp3 downloads, but I feel like I’m in the minority these days that I still buy albums and don’t just download singles or completely stream my music. Maybe it is like the mid-90s for them too as all three of these albums seem to be a bit of a return to what these artists were doing back then.
Sarah McLachlan has probably been the most consistent over the course of her career at least since she hit it big with Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Her previous albums were a bit less mainstream. Laws of Illusion, her 2010 album that focused a lot on her recent divorce was not my favorite. I bought it, but something about it never quite clicked for me and I never really listen to it and found myself skipping past the songs from it every time they would show up on my iPod. That coupled with the fact that her last album of new material prior to Laws of Illusion was 7 years prior with 2003’s Afterglow and it seems like it’s been a really long time coming for her new album, Shine On. This album feels like a return to the Sarah McLachlan I love, and I have already enjoyed listening to it multiple times. Sadly her tour date near me this summer is over the same weekend that I’ll be at Newport Folk Festival so I won’t be able to go. Even sadder, it’s at my favorite concert venue Wolf Trap. Alas.
I admit that I preferred Natalie Merchant as part of the 10,000 Maniacs than as a solo artist. I dutifully bought Tigerlily when it was released in 1995, but I never loved it as much as I did the 10,000 Maniacs stuff. After that she went on to do things that moved her out of the pop arena and into more folk related territory as well as just into doing projects that she wanted to do. It’s not necessarily that I didn’t like any of these things it’s more so that I just wasn’t really aware of them at the time and they kind of bypassed my radar. Her self-titled album Natalie Merchant is somewhat of a return to more mainstream music though it definitely still showcases the types of things she has done in the past.
I feel like Tori Amos is one of these artists who people either love or leave. People who love her music really love it and those who don’t don’t. She more than any of these three artists has basically done whatever she has wanted over the course of her career. Like Merchant over the last decade or so she has tried out things that are not necessarily what she was known for. She has played around with Classical music and done symphonic versions of her own music. She has written a musical. With Unrepentant Geraldines it seems like she has returned to a more pop style as much as you can ever call Tori Amos pop music. If you like her earlier albums, but weren’t so thrilled with some of the more experimental stuff she started doing in the 2000s this album will probably appeal to you.
If like me you may have not quite followed all these very talented women through some of the things they were doing over the past decade or two I encourage you to check out what they are doing now because they have put out three excellent albums. I strongly encourage you to give them a listen.