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Michael Lanning Michael Lanning
Album: Modern Sounds in Love & Cynicism
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 5
Website: http://www.michaellanning.com

This EP was sent as a double package with the full length CD Words Should Mean Something - Live At The Bitter End which has been reviewed separately.

Michael began performing in theatre at the age of nine and now having turned 60, continues to tread the boards. His wide and varied career takes in not only the theatre, but also song writing and performing. His band Jiva signed to George Harrison's Dark Horse label in the 70's and he has written hits for the likes of Dave Edmunds and the Stray Cats. Michael was the voice of numerous commercials in the states, been in several tour musicals and for six years was a featured vocalist in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, where he was introduced as "The most soulful white man on the planet"

This EP marks something of a detour for Michael and he tells us "I really wanted to go 'retro' and create something I don't get to do very often. Original swing music"

The EP features a plethora of guest musicians adding piano, horns, electric guitar, acoustic bass, drums and flute amongst other things. It looks like they were well rehearsed as the bulk of the recording was put down in a four-hour studio burst, including vocals!

Of the five songs here, three are Michael Lanning and Rick Bell co writes, one Michael Lanning original and the last number, Same Old Song and Dance is by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy.

Well, swing it does! Opening track Swingin' Kind of Love comes in all jazz guns blazing featuring some marvellous ensemble playing from the band and a great vocal from Michael. I much prefer his voice in this setting than on the full length Words Should Mean Something album. The Jazz swing feel here really plays to his strengths with his smooth, scatty tones and a richness that in places put me in mind of Michael Buble, George Benson and even Gregory Porter.

That's Gonna Leave a Scar feels like one of those rueful jazz standards that pop up in many a musical but Angel on My Shoulder really rings the changes clattering in like a bluesy John Hiatt number before settling back into more regular swing territory.

The EP comes to a close with You Just Go Away and Same Old Song And Dance, the first a slow reflective ballad and the latter a lovely jump and jive song that throws in everything but the kitchen sink, including some marvellous band playing.

Michael Lanning has made no secret of his long held wish to create a record of this nature and it works really well here. It boasts great playing from all involved, strong songs, superb vocals and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of joyous authenticity.

Paul Jackson