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Posted October 1, 2010
Shawn Lane knows his musical ropes!
Shawn Lane closes his new solo album, "All For Today," with the optimistic title cut that "it's all for today, but there'll be more tomorrow." I can hardly wait for his next solo undertaking. Blue Highway's mandolin player and vocalist, Shawn Lane steps into the spotlight on this album to feature his multi-instrumental, singing and songwriting skills. Lane plays guitar, mandolin, fiddle; sings lead and harmony vocals; and writes eight of the twelve songs. Shawn has previously worked with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, and Larry Sparks. "All For Today" offers a smooth, contemporary acoustic music sound, with banjo appearing on less than half of the tracks. Songs range from the ballad, "I Call Him Son" with only guitar accompaniment to songs like "Love Me Darling Just Tonight" with full bluegrass band accompaniment and the hardest-driving "Darlin' Nellie Across the Sea," with its uptempo arrangement which I wish also would've included some wailing fiddle. Shawn and his wife, Gracia Lane, handle most of the vocals. Gracia sings lead on "When I See Your Face" and "Little Mountain Home." Larry Sparks makes a cameo appearance as lead vocalist on "Sawmill Man," and Ronnie Bowman sings lead on Carl Jackson's "Jesse And Me." Besides Lane, the other excellent instrumental players on this project include Tom Adams, Barry Bales, Jason Burleson, Jerry Douglas, Rob Ickes, Jason Moore, and Tim Stafford. This is a tasteful album, with expressive melodies and evocative lyrics. With a little acoustic country, bluegrass, and Gospel, Shawn Lane's material is as eclectic and enjoyable as his varied instrumental and vocal abilities. This CD goes over like a million bucks. This showcase clearly indicates that the talented Shawn Lane knows his musical ropes. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2010
A superbly produced collection of the type of material Blue Highway does when featuring Lane
Fans of Shawn Lane's singing, picking, and fiddling with Blue Highway can stop reading here, log off, run down to Cartwright's Music, and buy All For Today. This new solo project is just what you would expect: a superbly produced collection of the type of material Blue Highway does when featuring Lane. And there are a few entertaining surprises (I'll save these for later). The material covers a healthy range within the bluegrass context. Lane's voice is perfect for quiet acoustic numbers of the type associated with singer-songwriter performers--the cleverly crafted and moving "I Call Him Son" brought to mind some of the seventies material of Davy Loggins or maybe Dan Fogelberg. "All for Today," a tribute to Lane's grandfather, would slide neatly into that category as well. Moving further up the bluegrass trajectory are some medium tempo numbers that, in a more just world, would be on country radio: "I Don't Want You To Go" should be leading the Nashvegas hit parade, and "When It's All Said And Done" and "Christ the Lord" should be giving our ears a few minutes of quality on Christian Contemporary stations. But Lane does not ignore the driving bluegrass side. Fans of the hardcore approach will like his hyped-but-traditional treatments of the Carter Family's "Darlin' Nellie Across the Sea" and Ralph Stanley's "Love Me Darling Just Tonight," particularly since these cuts and a couple more feature the banjo of Tom Adams. Adams stands as the measure for his generation of how traditional bluegrass banjo should be played. His rhythm, emphasis, and perfect tone are almost a distraction--not because he steps on the vocal (he never does), but because they are so very, very good. I cannot think of another banjo player who, working in the Scruggs vocabulary, has created such an immediately recognizable style. Adams in not the only instrumental stand-out, however. Virtuosi Rob Ickes and Jerry Douglas split the resonator guitar chores, and with the results we've come to take for granted. But the other main feature for me is Barry Bales, who lays down the bass on most tracks. With Bales's huge, even notes on the bottom and Ickes's and Douglass's well chosen fills on top--coupled with the very light-in-the-mix rhythm guitar--Lane can risk the kind of sparse arrangements that most bands sacrifice to a cluttered middle. These charts remind me of Lynn Morris's recent projects, in which you just know you are hearing every note played, nothing on the sonic spectrum is wasted, and the middle is never muddy. Now for the surprises. Though Lane has produced a solo album to feature, we assume, his great vocals, he gives his wife Gracia the spotlight on two tracks. Given the current growing popularity of women leads in bluegrass, maybe that's not too surprising (it's good, though). So try this: the Carl Jackson-penned duet number "Jesse and Me" starts you imagining that Lane has brought in his brother as well (assuming he has one). But a quick trip to the liner notes tells us that this "sibling" is none other than Ronnie Bowman. Surprised yet? One more try: In a pairing I would not have anticipated, taking over the lead vocal track for Mark Visage's "Sawmill Man" is Larry Sparks, and the number fits him as only a fine number can fit a fine singer like Larry Sparks. Passing around the lead vocal chores makes for a better album all the way around, and it does nothing to detract from the focus on Shawn. But that selection shared with Sparks reminds us of one more thing: Shawn Lane has about the smoothest tenor voice in bluegrass, and the effect is particularly striking when he's flying above a lead singer with the rugged qualities of Sparks (or Wayne Taylor). It is not to slight Lane's mandolin picking, fiddling, songwriting, and sensitive lead vocals, to say that none of these skills rival his heart-breaking tenor work. All For Today willWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.