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Daniel Lanois 

Shine (Anti-/Epitaph)

On his first solo album in 10 years, our Canadian of the Sorrows pulls off a ton of ambiance, calls in some prestigious cameos, and ultimately delivers too few real songs. This is a collection of moods more than melodies, and even though Emmylou Harris and Bono help out on some tracks, there are too few cases in which tune trumps texture.

Best known for his production work for Harris, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and U2, Lanois has released intriguing solo albums during the past 14 years; the keeper is his shimmering debut, Acadie. Here, however, he too often resembles others -- "Sometimes" sounds like Paul Simon trying on James Taylor's "Handyman" for size; "Slow Giving" conjures the most saccharine Crosby, Stills & Nash -- and Lanois's wispy voice rarely rises above the material. There are some fine songs, but there are also too many instrumentals -- their frequency suggests that Lanois ran out of ideas before he ran out of textures. Emotional sensitivity is the currency here, not power, making Shine an ambiguous experience at best.

More by Carlo Wolff

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