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Lana Lane

El Dorado Hotel

Review by G. W. Hill

It’s hard to go wrong with Lana Lane. She has one of the strongest voices in progressive rock and the songs on her discs do a great job of bridging hard rocking AOR sounds with modern and classic prog. So, each album is greeted with welcome anticipation. In a lot of ways this lives up to all that promise. The only real problem is that someone decided to use autotune on a couple of tunes. Ostensibly the reasoning was to make it appeal to fans who like modern pop music. That really cheapens those songs. Fortunately it’s only a couple songs and doesn’t occur that often in the songs. It’s a strong album that could have been better.

Track by Track Review
A Dream Full of Fire

The keyboards that start this off bring some serious prog rock to the table. Then a harder edged guitar oriented sound takes over for a short time. It works through several changes, turning more towards pure, but hard rocking, prog before dropping to a mellow, balladic section that has a real jazzy element. It builds up from there. It alternates between mellower and more hard rocking movements and this really has a great classic prog sound. There’s a great extended instrumental section later that covers a lot of musical territory. At times it touches on Eastern tones, and I’m a sucker for that kind of song. This is a real roller coaster ride and a great way to start the disc in style. There’s a smoking hot guitar solo section later that’s along the lines of technical epic metal.

Maybe We'll Meet Again
Combining hard rocking metallic sounds and a definite 1980s style AOR prog, this is a great tune, but it’s not as strong as the opener. It’s also not as dynamic.
El Dorado
This is cool! It’s got a lot of Spanish guitar, and that’s appropriate for this title. It starts quite mellow and builds organically. There is an inspired instrumental section that continues the musical themes of the rest of the cut. This doesn’t rise anywhere near the level of metallic, but it isn’t all mellow, either. It has some hard rocking prog, but the pace is kept slow throughout. This is a great tune that feels very organic in the way it grows and changes.
Darkness Falls
The opening of this has some Gregorian chant. Then it shifts out to a mid-tempoed, fairly mellow progressive rock arrangement that’s very tasty. They power it up to metallic later and this is kind of a nice cross between modern progressive rock and European epic metal. There’s a killer instrumental section that has some great melodic guitar soloing. This is dynamic cut that works through a number of changes and alterations. It’s one of the more effective pieces on show here.
Hotels
This number doesn’t really feel all that much like progressive rock. Sure, a couple instrumental sections seem proggy, but it’s more of an AOR tune than anything else. Lane’s vocal delivery really carries this and the chorus is quite catchy.
Believe
This has an old school prog texture on the introduction. There’s some crunchy, metallic sounds built into it, too. There are a couple points where it seems like they’ve used autotune or some similar processing on Lane’s vocals. Surely she doesn’t have trouble with hitting or holding the right note, so it’s certainly for effect. That effect is something that’s cheap and trite and will seem very dated down the road. Although that little bit is a definite misstep, this is a good tune despite it. It’s really only a minor problem and there’s a killer instrumental section later in the piece.
Life of the Party
The riff that opens this almost feels like something Ted Nugent would do. It works out to a definite progressive rock jam from there. It has some interesting twists and turns. It’s another strong progressive rock tune.
Gone Are the Days
There’s a driving rhythm section to this cut which seems somewhere between progressive rock, heavy metal and AOR sounds. It’s accessible and tasty and still meaty. There’s a cool spoken bit in the middle of this song and a great technical edged guitar solo.
Moon Good
Here’s another pounding progressive rock meets metal and AOR sound. They use that damned autotune or similar processing on Lane’s vocals at a couple points on this one, too. I’m not sure if they are seeking to give it a modern sound, but it doesn’t work. It just cheapens the song and detracts from the power and integrity. That makes this one another misstep, and it’s a shame because this is a very strong tune that has a lot of dynamic range and alteration built into it. There’s a killer jam later that starts with some acoustic guitar and gets layers of crunch guitar and other sounds added to the mix as it continues. This is a real screamer and only marred by that vocal processing.
In Exile
Beautiful keyboards rise up to begin this. There are string sounds serving as the icing on this pretty cake. Lane’s vocals swim through the gentle waters creating waves of sound. This turns to a heavy, but slow and almost classical section later. Then, around the four minute mark, a killer bass line takes it out to a funky, almost jazz oriented jam. As it builds out there’s some decidedly David Gilmour-like guitar work and then a shift to a cool technical section before the keyboards lead it into another jam. It returns to the mellower ballad-like sounds to take it to what seems like it will be the end. Rather than close it there, though, it launches out into a smoking hot extended instrumental section that has some Pink Floyd in the mix, along with other more symphonic prog elements.
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