This is the new CD released by the "Queen of progressive" Lana Lane after the successful "Secrets of Astrology" and "Ballad Collection". Lana Lane´s career is worthy of a deep study because although we could fit her music into AOR genre - with symphonic airs - everybody talks about her as a progressive artist... but me. I don´t know, perhaps is more "cool" talking about progressive than about AOR this new century.
This nice and charming woman whom I met during her show in Madrid is a living proof of perseverance and hard work. As other bands do, she could earn lots of money only with Japanese market -where she is very well known - releasing "live" after "live" for our yellow friends, but Lana wants to be successful in the old continent, the cradle of progressive rock.
In "Project Sangri-La" along with Lana Lane collaborates her husband, the keyboardist Erik Norlander (the real artificer of Lana´s symphonic sound), Neil Citron (guitars), Don Schiff (Chapman stick), and the legendary Vinnie Appice (ex Black Sabbath) as drummer. The special guests are Helge Engelke (guitars, ex Fair Warning), and Marc Boals, the great former vocalist of Yngwie Malmsteen.
This time Lana hardens her sound a bit "progressing" it with analog keyboards sounds and intelligent guitar solos, being the sound of this CD closer to Norlander´s debut than to "Secrets of Astrology". But vocal melodies are still a little surprising and the choruses are still close to AOR style. This comparison isn´t very accurate but we could compare the sound of this CD to the last stage of Deep Purple with Blackmore ("The battle rages on", "Slaves and masters"). So, we could find tracks more or less hard but with instrumental juice such as "Project Sangri-La" (6:03), with a great refrain, "The beast within you" (5:56) with powerful harpsichords by Norlander, "The Nightingale" (4:17), with nice string arrangements, or "Tears of Babylon" (6:34); minor tracks with simple FM-rock "Encore" (4:00); beautiful ballads plenty of pianos, symphonic keyboards and acoustic guitars such as "Before you go" (6:20), or "Ebbtide" (5:18). The worst songs of this CDs are, surprisingly, the two songs where Marc Boals collaborates, the repetitive and heavy "(Life is) only a dream" (6:42), and one of the ballads I´ve always hated and I consider it as the most ..............., "Time to say goodbye" (4:10). With this ballad all the respect I had for Sara Brightman was lost, so I quickly listen to this new cover and... OK, Lana sings good (in Italian language!!) and Boals too. I record this song in a cassette and I´ll give it to my mother. I´m sorry, I know this song is very classic, very beautiful, and etc., etc..., but I can´t stand it.
The best songs of the CD are the instrumental tracks "Redemption Part I" (2:27) and "Redemption Part II" (3:00) with a brilliant Norlander and an inspired Citron.
As a curiosity, I´ll tell you that the European edition´s bonus track is -marketing matters- is "Romeo and Juliet" (5:57), an outtake of "Secrets..." with Arjen Lucassen (guitars), Ed Warby (drums), and Tony Franklin (bass). It´s not a bad song, but the Japanese edition contains "I believe in you", a song composed by John Wetton specially for Lana with mellotron and hammond. So I, as a good Wetton´s collector, will have to buy Japanese edition too.
There aren´t surprises in "Project Sangri-La". Everybody know we´ll listen to a brilliant singer, a brilliant keyboardist, a brilliant guitarist, a brilliant stick player, and a brilliant drummer in a "lively" CD suitable for all audiences. It´s a little bit late for a Valentine´s gift, but your girlfriend will realize there are better female singers than Celine Dion and similar. If you love hard AOR, Wetton´s melodic rock and things like that, and if you love symphonic keyboards, you´ll also be bewitched by this amazing singer.