Music Express, November, 1988

'New Faces'

'SarahMcLachlan : Pre-Raphaelite Pop'

by Ronald Foley MacDonald

Vancouver's Nettwerk Records, perhaps the most aggressive and original of Canada's independent record labels, is gearing up behind what it and many others think may be the biggest new musical talent to emerge since k.d. lang set the Prairies on fire. This time, however, Sara McLachlan, a Halifax native, is giving label-placers a hard time. The possessor of one hell of a set of pipes and perfectly fluent on keyboards and guitar, Sarahalso looks like she walked lock, stock and barrel out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting.

But it wasn't looks that knocked out Nettwerk's Mark Jowett when he saw McLachlan in the ground-breaking Halifax band The October Game a year and a half ago. It was her commanding stage presence, dominating an intensely visual group that utilized rear projection, tape effects and stylized movements to complement its dense, melodic music.
Unfortunately the October Game ran into the usual difficulties of making it in the undercapitalized far east. Bassist Jim Parker had difficulty holding the Game together with few venues and no resident record companies to respond to the group's extraordinary challenge. Sara was responsible for a good deal of the group's material and she put her down time to good use by studying the visual arts at the Nova Scotia College Of Art and Design, an internationally famous school that specialized, at one point, in performance art, conceptual art and art video. Sara's abilities translated well into the pure visual forms she was pursuing and as The October Game disintegrated, she was able to put many of those artistic principles to work in getting her material together.
Nettwerk was willing to take Sarahwith or without a band, seeing her as a major talent with undeniable international appeal. They flew her out to Vancouver about a year ago to polish her material and put many of the musicians on their roster at her disposal - members of The Grapes Of Wrath, Moev, The Waterwalk, 54-40 and the Animal Slaves, the cream of the West Coast scene, all worked on the album.

Nettwerk can barely restrain their enthusiasm about Sara's debut album, Touch, undoutebly thinking that Kate Bush can now retire and Sinead O'Connor grow her hair. It's an enigmatic album dominated by Sara's extraordinary vocal range, ranging from an icy, controlled Grace Slick alto to a flippant Kate Bush soprano. The songs, almost all of which Sarahwrote, range from the dense and danceable to more fragile, folk-based melodies. Her writing eschews the overreaching that many first-time artists get caught up in, achieving an emotional impact from balance and simplicity.

In essence, Touch is a brilliant pop record that displays a mastery of form. And while SarahMcLachlan is aware of the limitations of pop music, she is not hesitant to exploit the neglected Anglo-Saxon and Celtic folk forms to enrich and darken her material. In this way she harkens back to the great English folk stylists like June Tabor, Maddy Prior and the late Sandy Denny, returning real emotion to the forefront.

Nettwerk has been known for taking real risks and sticking to its guns. It appears they haven't taken much of a risk on SarahMcLachlan. Touch appears to a be a winner and it's barely out of the starting gate.




Music Express
July, 1989
#138, pg. ??

'Exposed : Regional Reports'


    Sarah McLachlan was back on her home turf again, playing three nights at her old stomping grounds, the Flamingo Cafe and Lounge. Greg Clark, one of the three owners, and Sarah's former boss, ecstatically stated that she broke all the house records. He failed to mention if the club had switched over to CD's. With the maximum media coverage and re-release of her album Touch, Sarah has decided to put Halifax back on the map. Rumors have been spreading that the LP is selling like hotcakes in the States and that some very high-profile Anglo-American management types have decided that Sarah is the next Kate Bush. I say : Kate should be so lucky!