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Daniel Lanois: Belladonna

(ANTI) released: July 12

Belladona opens like a lynch film; something just isn't quite right about this picture. Working loosely with Lanois ambient traditions this album takes a slow, calculated journey through gentle steel guitar twangs and eerie tonal distortions. Lanois reveals a unique understanding of what an instrument can do other than rock out. The haunting and mystical "Oaxaca" rides alongside the handsome track "Agave" pulling out the essence of the Mexican landscape he surrounded himself with while recording the album over the period of a year.

As the album progresses it becomes impossible not to want to dream of something to fill the gaps. Perhaps this is all Lanois wanted to accomplish with Belladona. As he puts it, "I wanted to make a record...that would challenge the imagination, conjure up images..."

The instrumental depth of the album is by no means amateur, but without the gritty quality of natural elements that could have been incorporated, the album leaves the listener wanting. There is a track, "The Deadly Nightshade" that could be a fourth or fifth dimension where Neil Young has a shaved head and drinks tea with Charlton Heston. There are those however, who will fully enjoy this album as it is genuinely well arranged and could be used when their supply of Ambien runs out.

3 stars out of 5