Daniel Lanois Biography

19 September 1951, Hull, Quebec, Canada. This esteemed producer and occasional singer-songwriter rose to fame during the late 80s through his contribution to major releases by Peter Gabriel (So) and U2 (The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree). He subsequently produced Robbie Robertson, the widely-acclaimed ‘comeback’ album by the former leader of the Band, and in 1989 undertook a similar role on Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy, widely regarded as the artist’s finest work in several years. Lanois’ love of expansive, yet subtle, sound, reminiscent of ‘new age’ styles, combines effectively with mature, traditional rock, as evinced on the artist’s 1989 solo debut, Acadie. Drawing inspiration from French-Canadian heritage - Lanois used both his native country’s languages, sometimes within the same song - he created a haunting tapestry combining the jauntiness of New Orleans’ music with soundscape instrumentals. Contributions by Brian Eno and the Neville Brothers, the latter of whom Lanois also produced, added further weight to this impressive collection. Lanois and Eno had first worked together in the early 80s when Lanois was running the Grant Avenue Studios in Ontario with his brother Robert. The duo co-produced U2’s two aforementioned multi-million-selling studio albums and their combined influence helped give the band’s sound new dimensions.

During the 90s Lanois continued to work with U2 and Gabriel. He was also instrumental in re-directing Emmylou Harris’ career with Wrecking Ball in 1995 and toured with her, leading his own band during the autumn of that year. He produced Dylan’s excellent Time Out Of Mind in 1997 and also worked with Luscious Jackson, Willie Nelson and Joe Henry. Meanwhile, Lanois’ low-key solo career spawned 1993’s For The Beauty Of Wynona, a minor gem brimming with understated charm. The following year’s Cool Water captured a number of live performances undertaken in support of the album. Remarkably, it was another decade before Lanois chose to record another solo album. The resultant Shine, released by the Anti label in 2003, featured vocal contributions from Bono (U2) and Emmylou Harris, although the majority of the instrumental work on this beautifully recorded and intricate album was down to Lanois himself. The instrumental album Belladonna followed in 2005.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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