After a four-year break, the queen of symphonic rock Lana Lane returned with a new studio album. Her previous effort “Red Planet Boulevard” was released at the tail end of 2007 and while being decent enough, somehow failed to match the past glories of such albums as “Secrets Of Astrology” and “Garden Of The Moon.” Instead of forging new paths or retaining the classic sound, the album seemed to be unsure where to go and was simply trading too safe waters.
A creative break – for whatever reasons it happens – often is needed to spice up the composers, in addition of Lana herself, here this naturally includes her partner in crime Erik Norlander. Norlander has again produced and co- written most of the album with Lana and also handles all keyboard parts along with other instrumentation. Lane veterans Neil Citron and Mark McCrite contribute guitar work and Don Schiff once again is at hand with his famous N/ S Stick (btw, check out Lana’s Storybook DVD for an interesting feature on the instrument).
Various guests add to proceedings with former ASIA members John Payne, guitarist Guthrie Gowan and drummer Jay Schellen all making an appearance. Racer X guitarist Bruce Bouillet rounds out the line-up which on paper at least looks quite impressive. So let’s slide the disc into player and see what we have got.
“A Dream Full Of Fire” is a great opener that immediately sets the tone for what’s following: a melodic and tasteful delivery fronted by Lana’s excellent vocals. This is very much a typical Lana Lane song, grandiose and carries all her trademark styles. “Maybe We’ll Meet Again” is more commercial AOR- influenced number with excellent guitar and keyboard work.
Title track follows and is more of a sleeper, with slow rhythm again putting the spotlight on Lana’s powerful voice. The first acoustic guitar solo is a nice touch here. “Darkness Falls” has progressive opening but a heavy guitar riff threatens to take over before smoother acoustic backing returns. Goodcontrast anyways, though this track is still growing on me.
A tale what I can make of it is about musicians life on the road; “Hotels” is one of the finest rock ballads I’ve heard in a long time. A restrained piano and acoustic guitar backing supports Lana’s beautiful vocals. The singer delivers affectionate melody with brilliance. Keyboard part coming in towards the end is fantastic too. It’s been a while since I last could say a ballad was my favourite of a whole record, but that’s definitely true this time.
“Believe” is commercial AOR-influenced tune, which is nice enough. Lana’s voice here has an occasional effect that mirrors Cher’s massive pop hit of the same name 10 years back. I figure this must be intentional. “Life Of The Party” switches gear to a heavier, rockier guitar riff while “Gone Are The Days” is more of a traditional Lana Lane song with a chugging rhythm driving it along. “Moon God” has somehow hypnotic feeling attached to it, I like though it took some time to sink in.
Finally the closing number “In Exile” is one of the most epic tunes Lana has attempted yet, clocking in at over 11 minutes, it’s maybe a tad too hard to swallow with one go. Especially when the song in question is very progressive in nature. The last three minutes have an impressive coda with opening bass part reminding me of Deep Purple’s “You Keep On Moving” and the song reaches its zenith from there on.
Conclusions remain very positive indeed and it’s great to have one of the pioneers of this particular genre back in top form. “El Dorado Hotel” ranks up there with the best albums from Lana Lane and any fan of symphonic melodic hard rock should definitely take this one out for a spin.
1. A Dream Full Of Fire
2. Maybe We’ll Meet Again
3. El Dorado
4. Darkness Falls
7. Life Of The Party
8. Gone Are The Days
9. Moon God
10. In Exile