Daniel Lanois is one of those artists who record new albums very rarely, but whose output I await eagerly. Given the quantity and quality of his 'other work', I'm amazed that he gets anything of his own recorded at all: he has produced albums for U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, and collaborated with other eminent musicians like Brian Eno. I have his two previous albums ('Acadie' and 'For The Beauty of Wynona'), and I love them to bits. 'Acadie' is a very intimate album, with a lot of allusions to Acadian/Cajun culture and song. It's almost rough — but I mean that in a good way! 'For The Beauty of Wynona' is different again, evoking industrial landscapes and the lives of blue-collar workers, and has a darker tone, especially on the title track. So I was curious about where he was going to go with 'Shine'.
I'll put it simply — it's one of the most beautiful albums I've heard in a long time. The songs are very gentle, warm and intimate. It's a perfect album for late at night or lazy Sunday mornings, but you can appreciate the subtle mix, fantastic guitar playing and warm vocals at any time. Daniel Lanois is a bit like Peter Gabriel in that he doesn't have a great vocal range, but he has a wonderful emotionally expressive voice and uses it superbly.
The feel of the album reminds me a little of the mellower moments of Cream (for you young 'uns, I'm referring to the 60's supergroup, not the Manchester clubbing empire). The unlikely combination of Bono and Emmylou Harris guest on a couple of tracks (separate ones, you might be glad to know), and do a great job adding to the atmosphere, but my favourite tracks are the later solo efforts. 'Slow Giving' is a wonderful, sensual song, and 'Shine' is pure feel-good music, without ever being soppy or saccharine. Daniel Lanois is something of a hidden gem; do yourself a favour — dig him up, dust him off a little and lose yourself in the shining facets.