Sarah McLachlan explores love and happiness with Shine On

Vancouver-based musician Sarah McLachlan is known for her sombre ballads, but a multitude of significant life changes have inspired a hopeful new album and outlook on life.

In a feature interview last May with Rick Cluff, host of CBC Radio'sThe Early Edition, McLachlan revealed the inspiration behind Shine On, in advance of her upcoming North American tour.

This is a condensed and edited version of McLachlan's interview with Rick Cluff.

It's been three years since the last album. Why the long wait?

I have two small kids, I have an after-school music program here in Vancouver that I've helped run for the past 13 years, lots of big life changes too — and I've never professed to be prolific.

It takes a lot of time for me to write and my life is punctuated with big distractions.

You've described this new album as more hopeful than your recent efforts and yet it comes after some huge life changes, including the death of your father. Where does that hope come from?

My dad passed away four years ago and there was a lot of processing I had to do to come to terms with that and to figure out how I felt about that and in and around the same time was the loss of my marriage and then changing management and record labels.

So all these ​really important male anchors fell away at the same time. So it wasn't just my dad, it was a lot of things all at once.

Having all of those things happen to me really presented me with an opportunity to take a good hard look at my life and go, 'How do I want the rest of my life to look. I'm 46 years old.'​

Going through all this stuff and finding a way to feel at peace with all of it, that's the place I'm in.

I've rediscovered love, which is really amazing and feel like I'm in a really great place.

The song "In Your Shoes" is an anti-bullying anthem inspired by Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, as well as your own experiences in school?

The first lyric was where the song started: 'You turn the radio on, play your favourite song and cry.'

It just reminded me of when I was a teenager and I felt very isolated and alone and I turned to music for comfort.

Yes, I got bullied a lot, I got picked on, so I started mining that and I couldn't really finish it.

Every time I tried to tell my story, I couldn't find a way to connect with it that made sense.

And then the story of Malala getting shot in the head by the Taliban came on the news and it was so shocking and yet there was something so powerful about it because she survived.

She got to rise above it and she became an international heroine. And I thought she was the perfect catalyst for this song. It's about maintaining your sense of self.

Sarah McLachlan is a Vancouver-based musician and the Founder of the Sarah McLachlan School of Music.

She launches her Shine On Canadian tour in October, with shows in Vancouver on October 20 and 21 at the Orpheum.