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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Lana Lane

Winter Sessions

Review by Gary Hill

This album by Lana Lane features a number of originals and several covers. She and the band even reach back to cover some old jazz cuts, and show that they can do just about anything as they pull it off with a completely convincing style. The disc has a few songs that are weaker than others, but it is amazing that an artist this prolific can pull together album after album of consistently solid, and occasionally incredible material.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
What A World
Waves of synthesizer wash over, creating a dramatic atmosphere, then a beautiful balladic piano melody takes over and forms the main backdrop for this pretty track. This is a lush and powerful ballad that stays pretty close to it original musical structure, gaining power and intensity through reworking rather than rearranging.
Spirit of the Gypsy
The melody line that begins this is incredibly powerful. At first it is played just on solo piano. As saxophone enters, the cut takes on a jazzy structure, but once the guitar joins, this feels more along the lines of an updated version of the sound of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Mood. The band works through this melody for a time before dropping it down to the balladic verse. This is another strong cut, but the lyrics really feel sad. An instrumental break later introduces some killer retro keyboard sounds, and another features a tasty guitar solo followed by more potent sax wails. Every note and over layer on this cut seems to work perfectly to create an extremely potent piece.
A Whiter Shade of Pale
This cover of the Procol Harum classic is musically very close to the original, but Lanes' vocals are an incredibly strong addition. I have always love this song, and they have given me another reason to feel that way.
December Moon
A bouncy synth pattern begins this, then the band gradually joins in, creating a fairly frantic progressive rock tapestry. The first true hard rocking cut of the album, this one is strong, and uptempo. It has some very tasty sounds and features some Wakemanish keyboard lines and very tasty guitar soloing. Indeed, the instrumental breaks here are exceptionally strong.
I'll Be Seeing You
A sultry sax begins this, and a jazzy percussion line lends a full on smoky club texture here. This is a great old-time jazz ballad, and presents a cool change of pace and new way of looking at this band. They maintain this classic approach throughout, showing just how much diversity this group has.
Carnivale (Let It Rain)
Piano begins this ballad, and the mode is that of a gentler, slightly jazz killer laid back rock number.
Carry Me Home
This uptempo and poignant prog rocker is another powerful track. The instrumental interplay on this one is stellar.
Ill Wind (You're Blowin' Me No Good)
Another jazzy piece, this is slow and sultry, but more updated than the earlier jazz showing. It's still a great café ballad.
California Dreamin'
Another of my favorite oldies, this rendition is a good one, but I have to say I prefer the texture of the original. This one goes a bit too far in updating it. Still, Lane's vocals are impeccable. I'm just not blown away by this arrangement.
Winter Song
This one starts with lush keys, then drops to a pretty piano based balladic mode. This is a good cut, but a bit weak in comparison to some of the other material here. As it shifts gear to the more energetic section of the piece it is an improvement, though, and this cut does include some strong solos. The outro is also rather poignant.
Terminus Pro Tempore
The wind sounds that end the previous number remain to start this one. Keys join and begin slowly building in intensity. As the rest of the band enters, this becomes one of the few fast-paced piece on show here. The arrangement is that of a very strong prog jam. Indeed, this is arguably the most effective number on the CD. What the killer instrumental interplay showcased here, this one really makes for a great album closer. I bet this works very well live.
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