October 22, 2003

Daniel Lanois "Shine"

Daniel Lanois is a man with a history. Perhaps one of
the better producers of the late 20th Century, he is
responsible for many excellent albums. He has worked
with bands and artists such as Brian Eno, U2, and Bob
Dylan, and his work with them has often been hailed as
some of their best work. On the side, he has released
a few solo albums, including the critically acclaimed For The
Beauty of Wynona
, but Lanois is not considered a solo
artist. Shine is his first new solo album after ten
years, and though he’s not someone anyone really waits
for, it’s a wonderful little record that’s worth
seeking out.

Luckily, Lanois doesn’t fall into the trap that so
many producers/solo acts fall into-studio wankery.
Just because he’s responsible for some really
wonderful music doesn’t mean he has to get all weird
on you, and he doesn’t. Shine is an album that’s
moody, atmospheric and a little bit sad, but it’s also
an expertly recorded album that doesn’t let you forget
it, either. Deftly blending together country, folk,
and rock music into this one long sad, dusty road,
Lanois has made an album of dusty songs that will not
let the hurt in your heart go away.

From the first song, “I Love You,” Shine’s sadness is
stated plainly. It’s a lovely, plain duet with Emmylou
Harris, mixed with a dark, melancholy beat and Lanois’
sleepy, sad singing-at times very reminiscent of
Bono-makes for an unforgettable shot of atmosphere.
(Speaking of Bono, he makes an appearance on the next
song, “Falling At Your Feet.”) Shine never really
changes direction from that; it stays pretty much that
way-which, of course, is a very good thing. At times,
I’m reminded of Brian Eno; Lanois sings in a style
that’s somewhat detached yet impassioned-listen to “As
Tears Roll By,” which sounds like an outtake from
Another Green World. While Lanois’ voice is not
particularly strong, it’s not weak, either. “Power of
One” is a good example; it’s a hopeful little number,
made better by the fact that Lanois isn’t a
strong singer.

What makes Shine wonderful, though, are the
instrumentals. These tracks blend electronic
atmosphere with perhaps the saddest instrument known
to man: the pedal steel guitar. When blended with the
sonic atmospheres, songs such as “Matador” and “Space
Kay” provide a haunting refrain from the other moments
that come between. Indeed, the album is seemed
together so well, it would be easy to consider Shine
as some sort of concept album that should be listened
to as a whole. These instrumentals really do make you
feel emotional; the closing “JJ Leaves LA” leaves you,
the listener, feeling quite sad; much like “Pet
Sounds,” the sad, slowly-fading out refrain leaves you
feeling sad, as you watch the album slowly come to an
end. But it’s not a sad album, really; all of the
‘sadness’ works together and is somehow uplifting;
‘it’s darkest before dawn’ seems to be Shine’s

Shine is a beautiful album, plain and simple. Heck,
anything Lanois does is going to be good; that he’s
done it so masterfully as this only makes Shine even
more of a jewel. Shine is an album that will get under
your skin, will leave an impression on you, and will
leave you hitting the repeat button. This is music for
late-nights and early mornings, and will leave you
wishing the day was a little bit darker, simply
because the sunrise is such a beautiful thing to

--Joseph Kyle

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