Shawn Lane

Powers of Ten

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Shawn Lane's solo debut, Powers of Ten, showcases a phenomenally talented guitarist and musician who, unfortunately, doesn't seem to understand his own limitations. Emerging from digital silence with Steve Vai-like drama, "Not Again," the opening song on the record, is typical of the fusiony guitar-driven instrumentals that make up the bulk of Powers of Ten. These tracks, when not veering dangerously close to soap opera land, are pleasant enough, with just enough slippery lines to keep the listener interested. As Lane himself provides all the keyboards, basses, and drums, Powers of Ten is an impressive solo statement. But however impressive it is that Lane was able to play all of this music himself, it just never sounds like a full band playing together, with the attendant loss of energy and drive (the clearly triggered drum sounds are an especially egregious misstep). Also counting against Lane are two long and meandering pseudo-classical pieces: "Powers of Ten: Suite" and "Piano Concertino: Transformation of Themes." Played on synthesizers with questionable patches, these lengthy tracks completely interrupt whatever momentum Lane was gathering over the course of the first side of the record. This is a real shame, because he truly has a unique voice on his primary instrument; there are shades of Vai and Eric Johnson in his guitar playing, to be sure, but overall he definitely has his own sound and his own vision. After listening to Powers of Ten, one is left wishing that Lane could have hooked up with a live band and avoided the pretentious and self-indulgent noodling of the middle of the record. As it is, Powers of Ten is uneven and frustrating, and does not serve to present this fantastic musician in the best possible light.

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