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“DD Review: Michael Lane – Take it Slow.”

Score: 7.5/10

Michael Lane is your new soft rock radio, crooning out majestic, tranquil but aching songs drawing stylistic influence from Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver but always filling the mixes with an anatomical swagger of originality. Lyrically, he does a nice job of shifting topic too, letting existential philosophy and second-person rancor team up buddingly with good ol’ desire, like we get on the excellent, soulful “Ladybug – Sunset Mix.”  

One key feather in the cap of Take it Slow, as I allude to earlier, is its successful penchant for originality, despite, technically, existing within the approximate parameters of mainstream rock in the 2010s and 2020s. The opening title track, for instance, chimes in with a sense of steadiness that exudes vision and genuine emotion, so that the pop “drums,” the programmed beat, that enters, doesn’t muck up the ride or come across hackneyed. Your heart is already bound to Lane’s songwriting interface, which is buoyed by a keen sense of emphasis, and, of course, Lane’s gorgeous, celestial singing voice. Like a male Sarah McLachlan, on these mixes, his vocals caress the surrounding instruments in a way that’s artful and supremely musical, rather than trying to overpower or conquer them with ham-handed intensity. 

Of course, nobody would confuse this with “prog-rock.” The song structures are staunchly, invariably poppy, with, taking on Bon Iver as the closest reference point, a notable amount of variety in subject matter making up for the blueprint structures and the pop-minded production. Also, the instrumentation is relatively simple but really not stale or simplistic, per se, as many of these tracks find a beautiful drapery of pipe organ cloaking them with a soothing texture. “Moment” even gathers the surreal potential of confusing the two, with the entrance of a keyboard instrument that uncannily mimics an human voice. The result is something completely original, breathtaking but also that seems to jibe with the overall concept of this album, which suggests the proliferation of supernatural or healing experience out in nature. 

Still, always, the messages remain keenly benevolent and positive, which seems like less a postured sales job and more just the result of knowing that this is what Lane has to share with the world and that it’s something he’s achieved, for himself. On the opening title track, he sings “Walk into the forest / Where the trees are all your friends / They don’t care what clothes you wear / Or how much money you can spend”. On Take it Slow, Michael Lane sounds like somebody who’s been hurt, and who has resurrected his own spirit and morale by way of music, to then champion music for its own sake to the point where that generating from him be undeniable and holistically vital. 

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