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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Lana Lane

Project Shangri-La

Review by Gary Hill

In the liner notes to this album Lane says that she and Erik Norlander (her husband and main musical cohort) were just starting work for this album when the tragedy of September 11th, 2001 occurred. She goes on to speak about how hard it was to start the project in the midst of all that. She even went on to dedicate the CD to "The Memory Of All We Lost On September 11, 2001". Interestingly, the quality of the music presented here seems not to be one of those things lost. Instead, what we have here is a strong continuation of Lane's musical career, accessible progressive rock that occasionally flirts with prog metal. Her voice is at its usual stellar, and this could well be her finest album to date.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Redemption (Part I)
Neo-symphonic sounds start this off. It begins building on that basis before becoming more straight-ahead. It is a nice introductory instrumental to start the CD in fine fashion.
Project Shangri-La
The title track, this is a dramatic hard-edged and soaring rocker that really gets things fully kicked off. It gets more contemplative during the instrumental break. A break which comes complete with a retro sounding Hammond B3 solo.
Encore
A hard rocking number with retro leanings, this one feels a bit like Heart.
Before You Go
An awesome and evocative piece, a pretty piano melody starts it off. It covers several musical modes, first working on becoming more powerful, then more rock oriented, and even getting quite symphonic later.
The Nightingale
A droning acoustic guitar starts this one. As Lane's voice jumps in, the song gets very poignant and powerful. This prog number has an overall balladic texture, but surpasses the limitations that that categorization might imply. It is one of the strongest pieces on the disc.
The Beast Within You
Harpsichord serves as the intro to this one with a neo-classical texture, but lest the listener be fooled into thinking this is another ballad, frantic metallic guitar sounds push the gentler tones away. The song is transformed into a killer hard rocking piece that has a lot going on. A Wakemanesque break takes it for a time, expanding on the themes from the intro. Then another eruption of metallic fury gains control, this time in a potent neo-classical form with definite Deep Purple textures.
Tears of Babylon
This one starts in a balladic form that feels a bit like The Beatles meets the acoustic side of Led Zeppelin. It quickly turns into a powerful prog rock excursion.
Ebbtide
An evocative balladic tune, this one still manages to have a lot of power.
(Life Is Only) A Dream
I can't help it. When I see that title I keep hearing Spock telling Kirk in Star Trek V, "Jim, life is not a dream". Those prejudices aside, this is a hard rocker that feels a bit retro at times. The highlights of the song are some great mellow textures on the bridge and an awesome keyboard solo afterward.
Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro)
The vast majority of the lyrics to this one are not in English. It is a duet between Lane and Mark Boals, and is classically oriented balladic type of composition that gets a bit hard edged at times.
Redemption (Part II)
Another instrumental, this hard rocker plays in similar territory as the album opener, but with a harder take on it.
I Believe in You
A pretty and somewhat classically tinged light melody begins the piece. A somewhat symphonic ballad, this feels just a little "fluffy".
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