Photographers: Dennis Keeley; Jennifer Tzar; Kharen Hill; Raphael Mazzucco.
Sarah McLachlan may have a quarter century of recording under her belt, but she has very few compilations in her discography. Prior to 2013's The Essential Sarah McLachlan, there was really only one: 2008's Closer: The Best of Sarah McLachlan and, as she only released one other album since that compilation (2010's Laws of Illusion), there would seem not to be much territory for this set to cover, but The Essential is a very different compilation than Closer. That 2008 collection served up 16 basics, but this double-disc set runs 30 tracks, digging deep into her early pre-hit material as well as the music she made after she turned into a star. That doesn't mean that this skimps on the hits. "Possession," "Hold On," "Good Enough," "I Will Remember You," "Building a Mystery," "Sweet Surrender," "Adia," "Angel," "Silence," "Ice Cream," "Fallen," and "U Want Me 2" are all here, along with deep album cuts and a few other minor hits, providing a thorough, near-definitive portrait of McLachlan's peak years. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine