To The Horses
From an imagined luau in southwest Chicago – ukulele mixing effortlessly with rockabilly twang – combining blues sensibility and ‘50s chic with an eye on the past and no more than a passing interest in what’s happening now, Lanie Lane steps elegantly into the spotlight. Springing seemingly from nowhere, Lane has made 2011 her own: a BDO appearance, guest vocal spot on You Am I’s ‘Trigger Finger’, national support for Justin Townes Earl, a collaboration and tour with Clare Bowditch and recording time with Jack White in the US – the only thing missing thus far, is a record. Enter To The Horses.
Whether flirting harmlessly with the silly and left-of-centre (‘Bang Bang’, with its thumping double-bass line and ringing “Bang, bang, bang-idy bang bang” chorus lyric) or pouring her heart out (the title track, with its mournful delivery and lyrics like, “I’m going to the horses, if you can’t catch me then just give up”), Lanie Lane has proven that the growing interest she’s been receiving over the past 12 months is justified. For this is a record that fairly reeks of poise and musical nous, a record that oozes age and experience and yet has been created by a young woman with barely neither. Lane seems (in dress and appearance as well as in a musical sense) to have stepped from another time, somewhere where she’s already been doing this for an age and it’s old hat and she could do it whenever she wanted.
Whilst the two tracks she recorded earlier this year with White (‘Ain’t Hungry’ and ‘My Man’) aren’t represented on To The Horses, what is, is a step up; there’s nothing over the top, there’s nothing here that seems forced, there’s nothing that makes you think this is merely an act, a shtick. It’s simple, soulful music from another time re-crafted into something which, interesting enough, makes perfect sense in this electronic, shot-attention-spanned universe of ours.
If you were to name a weakness, To The Horses is a little lacking in cohesion, containing as it does a number of genres worked together – the aforementioned rockabilly, lilting Hawaiian folk, blues, swing, a little jazz, some surf and spaghetti western – which sometimes serves to overwhelm, but it’s only fleeting. Because then you get carried away on Lane’s voice, strong and raw with the occasional hint of female vulnerability – “Don’t cry, that’s below you, oh well, that’s what you get, for fallin’ in love with a cowboy” she sings on ‘That’s What You Get’, which is also another example of the tongue-in-cheek stories she tells throughout the record, songs like the bopping and bouncing ‘Betty Baby’ (She’s just a guitar baby”) and the junky and sultry ‘What Do I Do’.
With To The Horses, Lanie Lane has proven she’s worth the ‘hype’. She’s proven she can write seriously and in fun. She’s proven she can take ‘old music’ and turn it into something fresh and vibrant and she’s proven she’s a radiant streak of light, wrought upon the darkening roots scene in this country. A fine record, a fine debut to be sure.
Samuel J. Fell
To The Horses
is available now through Ivy League.