Best known as a producer, Lanois' adventurous solo career as a singer-songwriter has generated 11 albums. Here's a 23-song playlist.

Daniel Lanois “Solo” in 23 songs

  • Daniel Lanois: A Seer of Sound
  • PLAYLIST: Lanois “Solo” in 23 Songs. On YouTube and Spotify
  • INTERVIEWS: Engaging and candid interviews present Lanois in his studio comfort zone
    ARTST TLK with Pharrell Williams (44.36 mins)
    CBC Radio q with Tom Power (63 mins)
  • Kurated No. 115 looks at Lanois’ latest album Heavy Sun
Lanois at home in the studio


“I visualize sound… I can never get away from it.”

Music maker Daniel Lanois has ridden a resonant wave of musical exploration that’s taken him down to his artistic core and to the top of contemporary pop culture – a journey made possible by following his dreams and vision – literally.

“I wake up with ideas. I dream about ideas,” he told interviewer and musician Pharrell Williams on YouTube’s now defunct Artst Tlk show.

“Seeing” sound

Lanois gives life to those ideas with a strong suite of assets including synesthesia a neurological condition that allows him to “see” sound. It means that information meant to stimulate one of the senses will stimulate several at the same time.

“I visualize sound. It’s like a blessing and a curse. I can never get away from it,” Lanois says.

This extended spectrum has seen the intelligent and soft spoken artist produce award-winning albums for high profile acts U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and others over a career spanning more than four decades. Unlike most producers sitting behind the glass turning knobs and pushing sliders, Lanois also composes and plays with his clients. 

The solo career

His passion for musical expression has resulted in 11 original solo albums including 1989’s Acadie and, most recently, the soul and gospel-styled Heavy Sun issued in March and featured in Kurated No. 115.

With that album “… our goal was to be a force for good…” he told online publication Aquarium Drunkard

“We wanted to remind people not to let the world steal their joy, to remind them that even during a global pandemic, it’s our responsibility to protect our spirits and find ways to keep on dancing, keep on singing, keep on teaching, keep on loving.” 

It’s this deeply human element that informs his work as much as his musical virtuosity.

Touching hearts: finding authenticity through soul

He told Pharrell Williams: “I’ve found that the … exchanges that happen with people that I work with – even outside the studio – maybe we go for drinks, we hang out, maybe we talk about life…those exchanges are vital to the sound of a record.”

“Because you want to capture what’s going on in people’s minds and hearts and what’s going on in their lives,” he says. 

“At a given time people will be going through something – whether they’re very excited about life or sad about life – and I think it’s the record makers’ responsibility to recognize what’s going on and make sure it makes its way into the work. And that will lead to authenticity… that’s what happens with good work. If it’s got soul …you can touch a lot of hearts.”

Exploring an eclectic range of genres

In the more than 40 years he’s been composing and recording his own work, Lanois’ musical aesthetic and dexterity – coupled with a seemingly endless curiosity –  have brought him to explore many different genres. There are his seminal ambient music creations with Brian Eno; the gentle bilingual folk songs on album Acadie; the shimmering and atmospheric textures on Shine and Belladonna; the spacey electronic experiments on Flesh and Machine plus soundtrack work and the latest foray into soul and gospel on Heavy Sun.

His work bridges tradition and modernity. Asked to name his favourite sound, Lanois told CBC Radio q host Tom Power: “My favourite sound is one I haven’t heard yet.”

In that March interview, Power queried Lanois on how he approaches the search for something fresh.

“Certain parts of what we do has always been,” he says. “Melodies are ancient. If you’re plunking a melody on a piano a single note at a time, well, how old fashioned do things get?”

“So, we can’t forget that we’re inspired by melody along the way (but) the treatment of something traditional can bring it into the future. And we respect tradition and we respect the past but we try and do things that haven’t been done before. It’s always a combination of the two worlds.” 

~ Kris Klaasen

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15 May 2021

PLAYLIST: Daniel Lanois “Solo” in 23 Songs

There’s a lot of ways to slice Daniel Lanois’ broad and varied oeuvre. This Kurated playlist presents some of my favourite aspects of his music: the warm, easy, intimate and chill.

Note that the YouTube and Spotify playlists differ. YouTube features a number of live performances. Spotify doesn’t stream those. The selections on Spotify are either studio recordings or have been replaced by different tunes.


On YouTube

On Spotify