"How to navigate, how to simply be/To know when to wait, explain simplicity/In whom shall I trust/And how might I be still/Teach me to surrender/Not my will, Thy will"
— from "Falling at Your Feet"

You may never have heard his name (the last name's French, pronounced "lan–WAH"), but Daniel Lanois was, according to Rolling Stone magazine, the "most important record producer to emerge in the '80s." Lanois helmed several of the most seminal pop/rock recordings in the last 20 years–such as U2's Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, Peter Gabriel's So and Us, and Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind.

You also may not know that Lanois has released three critically acclaimed solo albums of his own since 1989, including his new release Shine. And chances are you may not know that Daniel was, like his pal Bono of U2, raised a French Catholic—all three of his solo albums include strong examples of his beliefs. Is it a coincidence that this famed producer works almost exclusively with such spiritually minded artists?

Shine is an interesting collage of sound, drawing upon folk, pop, jazz, country, and reggae influences. All of it ties together with the ethereal sounds common to Daniel's work, though the rootsy elements seem stronger now than ever before. Imagine Christian band Lost Dogs or the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack crossed with Peter Gabriel, or Blind Boys of Alabama, and you're on the right track. Half the cuts on Shine are instrumental, carried by Daniel's newfound love for pedal steel guitar. The other half features his vocals, which resemble Eric Clapton at his most tender (i.e. "Tears in Heaven" or "Wonderful Tonight").

The album's first single, "Falling at Your Feet," a duet with Bono, was originally included on the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack. Their voices blend together almost seamlessly in what seems to be a song of praise, acknowledging that all creation will one day bow to the sovereignty of the Lord. "I Love You," featuring harmonies by Emmylou Harris, begins with an illustration condemning those consumed with greed instead of love: "A man carried metal, carried gold/More than he could handle, more than he could hold/It weighed him down to a sand shallow grave/Where his bones were beaten by a heat wave."

"As Tears Roll By" resembles the work of classic Christian artists such as Gene Eugene or Mike Roe, expressing the heart of one struggling with his sinful nature in a fallen world filled with temptation. That spiritual lamentation continues into "Fire," pleading for divine intervention. The encouraging and comforting ethereal country of the title track finds Daniel singing about the unfailing presence of a friend, perhaps God: "In the end the thing that keeps them walking is your shine/Your shine when they wear no coat, your shine when the feeling's low/Your shine when it's too late to turn around."

Shine doesn't explore matters of faith as clearly as Daniel's previous solo offerings, but it still should resonate with many Christian listeners. Considering the profound influence this man has had on popular music, we should be thankful he's using his talents to glorify the Lord–both on his own albums and in the artistic endeavors of other spiritually minded songwriters.

Unless specified clearly, we are not implying whether this artist is or is not a Christian. The views expressed are simply the author's. For a more complete description of our Glimpses of God articles, click here.