Shine is only Daniel Lanois’s third solo album and his first in a decade–the prolific producer (U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, among many others) is a frustratingly sporadic artist. He’s also a surprising one: the albums he has produced (think of The Joshua Tree, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, So, Oh Mercy) are all characterised by surging, luxuriant audioscapes–the sonic equivalent of panoramic widescreen–but his own works are resolutely modest in ambition and approach. Shine, indeed, is almost lo-fi.
The only link between Lanois’s big-budget productions and this unassuming record is the personnel. Lanois must own one of the world’s most star-studded rolodexes and he’s not shy about using it: Emmylou Harris contributes backing vocals to the opening track and the song that follows it, “Falling at Your Feet”, is a duet with its co-author, Bono. The remainder of Shine is thoughtful, subtle songwriting to which the limitations of Lanois’s own vocals lend an engaging frailty, leavened with bleak, lonely, instrumental pieces.