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Sarah McLachlan's 'Illusion'

By Denise Quan, CNN
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Sarah McLachlan returns with new CD
  • Sarah McLachlan has a new new CD, "Laws of Illusion"
  • She's the only artist who will be performing all 36 dates at Lilith Fair
  • New album has hints of split from her husband of 11 years
  • The singer-songwriter says this year's festival will have a diverse lineup

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- As the female-powered Lilith Fair hits the road this summer for the first time in 11 years, only one artist will be performing at all 36 dates: festival co-founder Sarah McLachlan.

The Canadian songstress plans to include signature tunes like "Possession" and "Building a Mystery" in her set list, but she'll also be busting out material from her new CD, "Laws of Illusion" -- so called because in her experience, nothing is as it seems.

When McLachlan retreated from the public eye after her last album of new material, 2003's "Afterglow," she appeared to have it all: an enviable career and a fairytale marriage to her longtime drummer, Ashwin Sood.

But in 2008, the 42-year-old singer-songwriter announced that the pair had split, after 11 years and two young daughters together. Although McLachlan is careful not to give specifics about went wrong, there are hints in her music. "Laws of Illusion" is a break-up record, but it's also an album of fresh beginnings, as CNN discovered after catching up with the three-time Grammy winner.

CNN: When we last left you, everything seemed so perfect in your world.

Sarah McLachlan: Ha ha, the illusion. It's been a rollercoaster couple of years emotionally. And that's certainly played out in the record.

CNN: It's almost like a journal set to music.

McLachlan: Well, there's certainly some things I didn't choose to reveal.

It's one thing for me to talk openly and candidly about my feelings and about my experiences, but when it involves other people, I have to be cognizant about that, and I don't want to hurt anybody else.

CNN: During the time you've been away, things have really changed in entertainment news and celebrity culture. It's more scandal-driven.

McLachlan: There's no reason for anybody to jump out of bushes to take pictures of me. I'm not doing anything exciting.

CNN: Media outlets seem to be fascinated with the Tiger Woods stories, the Jesse James stories.

McLachlan: Well, it's pretty scandalous stuff! It's shocking, and it's titillating and enticing. Tiger Woods -- there's this great facade. He's put up on a pedestal, and that's a long way to fall. I feel terrible for his wife, I feel terrible for his kids, and I feel terrible for him, too. I mean, you know -- dumbass. What the hell was he thinking?

I mean, poor Sandra Bullock. Same thing. Aw, man, I just felt so badly for her and all that. But you know, you choose to put yourself out there in the spotlight, and your life is under a microscope to a certain degree.

CNN: Are you going to take your two girls on the road with you during Lilith?

McLachlan: Yup. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I want to give 100 percent to everything. So knowing the demands of the job of Lilith, and knowing the demands of a mother, it's like, "Okay, how am I going to balance all this?" I'm going to have to do some serious yoga and meditation every morning.

CNN: Is your yoga instructor coming out to lead group classes for everyone on tour?

McLachlan: I'm going to bring my yoga teacher out for some of it, definitely. I've been doing it for 12 years, and at the risk of sounding airy-fairy, it's made me a better person. It really helps me. Just calms me and grounds me.

CNN: Many of the artists who've gone through the Lilith experience talk about the camaraderie backstage, being around other female artists.

McLachlan: This is how I felt last time, and a lot of other artists felt it, as well: the sense of community that we created, not only for ourselves but for the audience.

CNN: So why did it take so long to resurrect Lilith?

McLachlan: My three partners -- my two managers and my agent -- since we did Lilith last time, we've all had children. We each have two children. Our kids are a little older now, and whenever we used to get together and talk about it, it was, "Ugh, I can't even imagine going back to that. It's too much work!" And the last time we got together and talked about it, we were like, "You know, we could do this again."

A lot of the artists came back from the last time. There's a wealth of new artists out there that we got to draw from, and I think it's a fantastic lineup. (The revolving lineup includes Sheryl Crow, Queen Latifah, Kelly Clarkson, Carly Simon, Colbie Caillat and Erykah Badu)

CNN: It's not just female singer-songwriters. You've got people from different genres.

McLachlan: That was our mandate from the beginning. I know we got dubbed as the "White Chick Folk Fest" from the get-go, and that was frustrating for me, because it was something that I had to defend daily, and it was never meant to be that. We asked everybody. We asked artists from different genres. We got who said, "Yes."

CNN: Who are you most excited about bringing on board this year?

McLachlan: I'm very excited about Loretta Lynn and Mary J. Blige. Heart's coming out. Metric, Tegan and Sara -- well, they came last time, too -- Cat Power, the Go-Go's, the Bangles. You know, (I'm an) '80s girl.

CNN: Rihanna's on the lineup.

McLachlan: Rihanna's doing one date: Salt Lake City.

CNN: Do you think she'll change things up and make it a little more acoustic?

McLachlan: Oh, I hope not! No, she should do her thing! She should come out there and be fierce.

CNN: Who got away this year that you'll reach out to for next year's Lilith Fair?

McLachlan: We asked Lady Gaga. She's doing her own tour. Taylor Swift is doing her own thing. Miley's doing a movie this year. Miley was a big one for my 8-year-old. She really wanted her to come on. You know, everybody's got a busy summer schedule.

CNN: Are you nervous about the return of Lilith?

McLachlan: Maybe I'm being dumb, but I have this sort of blind faith that everything will work out.