header("Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8"); ?>
French-Canadian Daniel Lanois is best known for his work behind the studio boards, lending an immaculate polish to massive albums by U2 and Peter Gabriel. Suitably enough, his recent album "Shine" begins with the Gabriel-esque "I Love You" (think "Come Talk To Me"), and continues with Bono himself singing "Falling At Your Feet". But it's firmly Lanois's own album.
An air of rootsy Americana washes gently over the laid-back songs here, many accompanied by the pedal-steel guitar. Although I profess not to like country, I adore the liquidly smooth sound of this instrument sensitively played by Lanois. The mellow tunes are sung with that relaxed, camp-fire warmth. But it's nowhere near dirty, as the gleaming production and Lanois's perfectionist choice of sounds lend it a fragile, sensitive mood.
The sound is ambient, in the sense of being subtle and spacious. With the muffled electronic beats which begin "I Love You", and Lanois's whispered vocals, he's determined to do more with less. There's even a couple of pure ambient instrumentals in "Matador" and "Space Kay", recalling his production partnership with Brian Eno. It may be a little too clean-cut and overwhelmingly mellow for some. Although the tunes themselves don't go outside a range of a few notes, simple prettiness is all that songs like "Sometimes", and "San Juan" need.
December 22, 2004