Competent But Chilled

Considering his career as a producer, Daniel Lanois' album has all the qualities that you may expect, it's glossy, smooth and the atmosphere on each tune moves in like a weather front that encloses the listener. The album is the soundtrack to Lanois' documentary of the same name, which he describes as "the travelogue of his life"; in some ways it's slightly disappointing to have to be deprived of the visual accompaniment given the nature of the project, but 'Here Is What Is' is a fine collection of high quality chilled out songs with occasional voice snippets from the creator himself.

'Where Will I Be' is an echoing mass of seering synths and instruments that sigh beneath Lanois' gritty vocal melody, which has more than a passing folk twang. 'Not Fighting Anymore' is a little more paired down with sparse instrumentation, allowing what there is - shuddering drum beats and rippling backing to have even more effect. Extended instrumentals like the countrified, 'Blue Bus' with its mellow guitars and the bluesy twinkle of piano in, 'Lovechild' go down well. 'This May Be My Last Time' is a bold, growling blues rock tune that shimmers with a slow and sultry rhythm. 'Duo Glide' is a particular masterpiece that ebbs and flows for 6 minutes, holding your interest the whole time with soft vocal harmonies and glistening guitars. 'Joy' is another highlight with a mellow melody and glowing vocal harmonies that exude warmth.

Interview snippets may usually be an annoyance on an album, but the clip entitled, 'Beauty' which sees Lanois describe how beautiful things can come from the most unlikely places is inspiring and only increases your respect for the artist. The majority of the album consists of smooth, slide guitar-embossed tunes with a radiant sheen and relaxed vibe that could be categorised as coffee table fare, but are full of musical merit.