Sarah McLachlan is one of the more notable artists to emerge from Canada in recent decades. For proof, consider the fact that she has managed to sell more than 40 million records over the course of her career, which is a number that most artists can’t even come close to matching. Never mind surpassing. So far, McLachlan has released nine studio albums, which include a couple of Christmas albums in their number.
Wonderland was the second of McLachlan’s Christmas albums. As such, it was released in 2016 rather than 2006. Wonderland wasn’t a bad release, as shown by how it received a Grammy nomination. However, artists tend not to show the full range of their singing and songwriting skills on Christmas albums, with this one being no exception to the rule. McLachlan penned just one of the Wonderland songs, which was one of the two exclusives on the Barnes & Noble edition.
Speaking of which, Wonderland would be the first of McLachlan’s Christmas albums. It had some of the same issues. However, Wonderland was a much stronger performer, as shown by how it went platinum in the United States and double platinum in Canada. In fact, its sales numbers were enough to make it the single best-selling holiday album of 2006. Granted, Wonderland came out in 2006, which was a higher point in McLachlan’s career. Still, the sales numbers spoke very loudly.
Sometimes, an artist’s debut studio album is the single best thing that they will ever release. Other times, their debut studio album is more of a starting point than anything else. McLachlan’s debut studio album Touch was very much an example of the latter. It had some good songs on it. However, there is a reason that McLachlan didn’t become a true star until Solace and Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, which were her second and third studio albums respectively.
6. Laws of Illusion
Amusingly, the original name of McLachlan’s seventh studio album was supposed to be Loss and Illusion. However, the record producer Pierre Marchand thought she meant Laws of Illusion, with the result that she decided to go with that instead. Regardless, there were people who didn’t like the release, whether because it was too dated, too incoherent, or too insubstantial, but they seemed to have been in the minority because the release was received quite well on the whole. Something that can be seen in how it reached quite high on a number of charts in a number of countries. Laws of Illusion isn’t the most innovative studio album ever released. Indeed, there are people who have commented upon its resemblance to the folk-pop of the turn of the millennium. Still, it is a good reminder that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
5. Shine On
Both Laws of Illusion and Shine On were inspired by major events in McLachlan’s life. The first was inspired by the breakdown of her marriage. Meanwhile, the second was inspired by the death of her father. However, it is interesting to note that Shine On wasn’t a sad release in the same way as its immediate predecessor. Instead, it was more of an embrace of life, with the result that it was more of an experimental work as well. On the whole, Shine On was quite good. It wasn’t quite capable of matching up with McLachlan’s most famous releases. Still, it has an easy time standing out because it showcased a new side of the singer-songwriter.
As mentioned earlier, Solace was one of the studio albums that made McLachlan a true star. To be exact, it did so for her in Canada, as shown by how it went double platinum in that country. Solace managed to sell respectable numbers in the United States as well at a total of about 671,000 units, though it fell short of being a true international breakthrough. A fair amount of the music on the release remains quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, Solace is no higher on this list because there are significant parts that have fallen behind. Indeed, it is telling that all but one of the songs on it haven’t been performed live by McLachlan since 1999.
Surfacing was one of McLachlan’s most successful releases, as shown by how it went eight times platinum in the United States and diamond in Canada. There was a considerable gap between it and its immediate predecessor Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. This was because McLachlan became exhausted by her work, so much so that she thought that she might never make another studio album ever again. Fortunately, she started feeling better in time, not least because of her manager’s suggestion for her to take a break. Eventually, McLachlan was able to make Surfacing as well, which is often regarded as one of her most iconic releases. Some reviewers thought that it was too slow and too banal, but there were those who took a more positive view of things as well. For comparison, the consumers seemed to have been better-inclined towards it on the whole.
Afterglow wasn’t as successful as Surfacing. However, it was formidable in its own right because lackluster releases don’t go on to sell four million copies. In any case, it ranked higher on this list because it was more of a creative jump than most of its counterparts. To name an example, Afterglow was the first time that McLachlan wrote on piano rather than the guitar, meaning that it can be considered a serious transition point in her career.
1. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
By this point, chances are good that interested individuals can guess that Fumbling Towards Ecstasy would receive the number one position on this list. After all, it is one of the two studio albums that made McLachlan a true star, having been an instant success in Canada and then a gradual success throughout a number of other countries. This was helped by Fumbling Towards Ecstasy being one of the brightest highlights of McLachlan’s career, meaning that it remains well worth listening to.