Sarah McLachlan pours her heart and soul into 'Shine On'

John Williams, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:41 PM ET

Sarah McLachlan is back and ready to shine on, despite many reasons to stay hidden in the dark.

It hasn’t been a easy trek for the 46-year-old over the past few years.  She’s had to cope with the end of her 11-year marriage to Ashwin Sood, the father of her two daughters,  as well as the death of her adoptive dad, Jack, who succumbed to cancer in December of 2010.

And like McLachlan always does, she pours her heart and soul into her eighth studio album Shine On (out Tuesday), but it’s not all doom-and-gloom - the rays of light still emanate through her clouds.

Speaking down the line from her home in Vancouver, McLachlan talked to QMI Agency about the stories behind her new set of tunes, a freak injury that could have derailed her upcoming tour, and the possible return of Lilith Fair.

A lot of the songs are tremendously personal and contemplative, but have an overall message of hope and “surviving the storm." Is this a fair assessment?

Absolutely. You don’t get to this age unscathed. We’ve all been through a whole lot at this point in our lives and it’s a bit of a turning point where you get to look at the rest of your life and see how it will play out. What have I done up until now? How am I going to make the rest of my life look? It’s a real pivotal time, and it certainly has been with mine these last five years. I wanted to try to emulate that in the music. My dad’s death had a profound impact in my life. It took a couple of years to find out what that meant to me, and what he meant to me.

What was the inspiration behind the single and lead track In Your Shoes?

It started off being about bullying, but it needed to be something stronger than that. When the story of Malala Yousafzai being shot in the head by the Taliban came out, she easily became the heroine of that song. She was so profoundly strong -- speaking up for herself in the face of grave danger. She’s such a great role model for the two young girls I have and for humans in general. 

You’re a well-noted surfer and went on a Hawaiian vacation a short time ago. Is this really the safest way to prep for a long tour?

I’ve been surfing for 15 years and have only had two relatively minor injuries. Of course, on the last day of the vacation, I was trying to be John McEnroe and tore the crap out of my calf playing tennis and everyone thought I had torn my achilles. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, so I didn’t have to be in a cast for six months and I didn’t have to cancel my tour. Tennis is not for me (laughs).

What can we expect from the upcoming tour (which begins in the U.S. in June and an expected Canadian tour beginning in October)?

I want to keep it small and simple (she’s touring with a five-piece). I’m thrilled about getting in and re-working some of the older songs and spicing them up a little bit and am really excited about playing the new songs as well — people will have to suffer through some tracks they don’t know (laughs). 

Music festivals seem to be the “in” thing again. Would you ever see a time when you would bring Lilith Fair back?

It’s so far in the back of my mind, but you can never say never. If I was ever to do it again, it would be very different. It would probably be a destination as opposed to a travelling tour. Coachella, Bonnaroo, those are the hot tickets these days - it’s great. I love playing festivals and I’m hoping I’m going to do some of those next year.

Will fans have to wait another four years for new music?

It takes the time it takes for me to write. You have to take time away to sharpen the saw, live, experience new things — I have something to write about. You never know though — maybe all of a sudden I’ll become prolific (laughs).

Twitter: @johnwillms

john.williams@sunmedia.ca


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