Daniel Lanois

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Kingsway Studio became the birthplace of Acadie, Lanois' first album that presented himself not only as a producer and musician, but as songwriter and performer. A moody ambience resonates throughout the album, which was also heavily influenced by Lanois' French roots. Songs like "O Marie," about tobacco pickers, and "Jolie Louise" about a down and out factory worker capture snapshots of traditional French Canadian life.

With unusual tunings, Lanois also established himself as a guitarist with a unique sound and approach. He also brought the "omni chord" into the spotlight -- an electric instrument that looks sort of like an appalachian autoharp but has pre-programmed sounds and effects like a synthesizer.

Unfortunately, despite the respect associated with his name, Acadie was not a commercial success. Neither was For the Beauty of Wynona (Wynona referring to a city in Ontario), Lanois second solo album released in 1993. His music continued to be categorically undefinable, a hybrid of folk, rock and electronica. One of the more accessible songs on the album, "The Messenger," was later recorded by Canadian art-rockers Tea Party. A controversial album cover also caused the CD to be banned in some stores.

On the production end of things, Lanois continued to be busy throughout the 1990's. Wrecking Ball by country legend Emmylou Harris was a runaway success, crossing over to pop audiences. Featuring Lanois on guitar and backing vocals, many Lanois fans commented that Wrecking Ball was like a Daniel Lanois album, with someone else doing the lead vocals.

He also produced the successful Time out of Mind for Bob Dylan in 1997, Luscious Jackson's Fever In, Fever Out, and the soundtrack to the movie Sling Blade. Willie Nelson's Teatro introduced the performer to a new generation, in part thanks to Lanois' involvement.

Daniel Lanois is one of those few artists who has transcended boundaries of musical genres and cultures. Whether working with folk, country or rock artists, or performing in own songs in English and French, he submerges himself completely into the creative process, making each album he has touched and extension of his life.

For more information about Daniel Lanois, visit the World Music Index.

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