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Sarah McLachlan-Wintersong

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Arista

Sarah McLachlan is slowly, steadily turning herself into a reliable brand; you know exactly what you're getting when you pick up the latest album. Which is to say, said album will be stuffed with the same damn thing you've heard countless times before.

"Wintersong," McLachlan's crack at a holiday-themed disc, cribs a track from a decade ago (her luminous cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night") and spends most of the record enveloped in longtime producer Pierre Marchand's thick blanket of distorted guitars and echo-drenched piano. There's also a new song: McLachlan penned the frosty, vivid title track, which fits snugly amid the sleek readings of such yuletide classics as "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and the always-welcome Vince Guaraldi gem "Christmastime Is Here." Sure, it's as banal as your neighbor's needlessly tacky Christmas display, but like those sparkling lights stapled to the gutter, it also has the capacity to be pretty friggin' beautiful.
 
- Preston Jones

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