Here Is What Is – Daniel Lanois

Acclaimed singer/songwriter/producer Daniel Lanois, known for producing some of the greatest albums of the last two decades. He also has his own solo stuff that has got him much acclaim. His 6th studio album Here Is What Is was first released in December 2007 as a high-quality download, and later released on CD on March 18, 2008.

It is the result of the same project that lead to the 2007 documentary “Here Is What Is” that premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival in September. We start off with Chest Of Drawers, a voice recording of Brian Eno speaking (as in the documentary). The  first song is Where Will I Be followed by Here Is What Is. The atmospheric, world weary tone is apparent in them and it’s sets the mood for the rest of the album.

The almost apologetic Not Fighting Anymore is beautiful and melancholic. Eno is then asked about how beauty is created out of nothing. The instrumental Blue Bus is fleshed out by the beautiful pedal steel guitar work of Lanois. Lovechild is a haunting piano instrumental, with just some words, that reminds of snowy arctic life, which then segues into pedal guitar. Harry is about a guy who needs some salvation. Bells Of Oxacana offer an interlude before a surprise in This May Be My Last Time – which is a old time blues number. Smoke #6 is another lovely instrumental.

I Like That is a slow & mellow request for the things that the singer desires. Duo Glide starts off with a steady drum beat, the bass and guitar follow to create a nice intro. Bladesteel is another instrumental. Moondog reminds me of Native Canadians tribes music. And the name ‘Moondog’ sounds like it could be the name of a Native. Brian Eno speaks with Lanois about anti-romanticism in Sacred And Secular. Lanois then tells us about his love for the pedal steel guitar, which he describes as his ‘church in a suitcase’, before he serendes us with some guitar playing.

The pedal steel guitar continues for a bit in Joy, when a more cheerful sounding organ takes over. The album closes with Luna Samba, a lot more happier and jazzy sounding number. Here Is What Is was recorded in Toronto, Los Angeles and Shreveport, LA with drummer Brian Blade (Joshua Redman, Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones) and pianist Garth Hudson (The Band) and captures Lanois’ signature musical sensibilities and virtuosity.

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