Album/EP Reviews Folk Music

Robert Lane – Only a Flight Away – Review

Released 27th April 2018

With “Only a Flight Away” there is a gear change from the “Country Lane” to the “Highway Lane”. Working and skillfully taking influences from all round this is an artist who is more assured, more confident and more accomplished.

What comes to mind when you think of refinement? Fine wine, some blue coloured cheese, a hat tailored in such a way to make you look suave?

Of course it is all these things (unless of course, you have an aversion for food that admittedly on occasion smells of socks) but according to the dictionary it is more specifically, “the improvement or clarification of something by making small changes.” With Robert Lane’s latest album, “Only a Flight Away” we get a good, if not one of the best examples of fine tuning from an artist we have come across this year. Before we get to the meat of the album, who is Robert Lane?

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Robert Lane is an acoustic performer and singer-songwriter who has had the pleasure of performing as support for the likes of Bob Fox and in the company of greats such as Fleetwood Mac, Mark Knopfler, and Eric Clapton. He also seems to roam close to my distant  homeland in Brum, is part of an improv group (The Improlectuals) and gives guitar lessons (maybe one day if I ever master fiddle). An artist with a few projects on the go and a keenness, his profile is growing all the time. With this latest album, Robert returns in a followup to his previous EP “Ends and Starts” from 2016 and as we have alluded to already, it is a different kettle of fish to this previous work.

Bigger in scale, richer in sound, “Only a Flight Away” is the equivalent of a ballerina putting on their shoes or Columbo putting on his dirty mac in that Lane has found a part of his character, outlook and sound that he is rightly accentuating for others to see. In creating the album you get a strong sense of direction that Lane is staring in, he has sight of the path he wants to take, and part of this path is political commentary. The album is primarily a core of songs about the relationships, identity and self-musing but every now and then Lane’s devil inside, a grinning spectre emerges to comment about certain powerful men of the world. He is a bit like the strategic boxer, he isn’t coming out with flurry after flurry of missing blows, he takes his time and makes the right shots and much like in this situation, it is more the better for it. After all, in so much media making these jabs at Trump and America can be so easy and saturating that is tired to make the same allusions over and over again. Lane doesn’t do this, he makes is matter when he does it and then moves on.


Take “Man of the Moment” (track 2), it could be seen as purely a Trump missile (especially with it’s modern trappings of “post truth”) but that aside, its gravelly, slicing guitar riffs, encircling voice and hints of percussion has more to say. Your initial sense is of the Killers at the top of their game with it’s thumping, melodic beauty but thinking about it, if the film (and book) of American Psycho wasn’t so heavily based in the 80s, this could easily be an accompanying track to that. Lane’s lyrics could easily be the monologue of Patrick Bateman’s ego trip, smirking and thinking of self love (instead maybe of the Phil Collins we got). A beast of a song and recognisable as the standout hit on the album it is a great example of how having good sound production certainly makes a difference where it matters.

There are some other great numbers too. “Baby Knows” is a clapping, blues-led number that you could drink some good (and not so good) bourbon too. A positive, warming song which, like the album as a whole, has a fond regard to guitar performance with some lovely picking here to contrast to track two’s power chords. Its not reverence to the guitar like a church setting, more like Lane and his guitar are both in a biker gang, his guitar has a skill for arm-wrestling and this song is flexing it’s biceps. Kind of chummy like he knows it’s got him out of some scrapes in a tequila bar. As mentioned, there are some claps and harmonies there and the joy of the mixing is that the guitar has a prominent place, but nothing else is drowned out in the process.. which is certainly what you want.

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Another favourite on the album is “Far Too Busy.” Consciously structured as a lyrical and audio narrative, it does great things with an electronic baseline, piano and harmony. Starting as a recently modern sound (I get echoes of Lorde) it starts with a light industrial feel, maybe situating itself in a great conurbation like Birmingham. It is airy though with threads of dreampop, piano flourishes from Queen, and social commentary folk of the 60s. But there is genre time-travel all over this album, and repeated listens bring out some of the finer elements of the creation process be it the more rock opening of “The Hundred House” with echos of “Layla” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” or the slightly 90’s “calling out into the darkness” Oasis sound of “Bill Frost’s Flying Machine,” the comparisons could go on. If this doesn’t sound like high praise, it is. Bear in mind we usually only get enthused with guitar if there is a song about someone dying at sea being sung over the top of it, this album does have the power to remind of the musical influences of the past and that is always a good thing. The joy of these influences are that in the album they are glimpses, much like the fleeting memory of one’s earlier days of fast romancing (or if not applicable, I don’t know maybe a great whisky you had years ago!)

So when it boils down to it, it is a varied album. Lane shows us the different shades of his guitar and  makes an earnest, successful stab at bringing a sense of fun and attitude to what he does. A series of guitar songs about relationships doesn’t always float our boat but it does here as there is a great use of the resources around Lane and in terms of polish the sound production on “Only a Flight Away” is like that of an album from a big, mega, world-touring band and quite unexpected for a more humble artist.

So as we said when we started, pure refinement.

Check out more details about Robert Lane and “Only a Flight Away” on Robert’s website and have a listen below.

Album/EP Reviews Folk Music

Rob Lane – Ends and Starts (album review)

Blues rock that warms the senses for Spring and gets the room moving in an optimistic, light-hearted manner


In taking a mild diversion from things going on in my current home County (Yorkshire), the South West with it’s wonderful mysteries, and the cosmopolitan excitement of emerging folk around London, I have decided to go back to near where I grew up looking for new folk developments on my radar: the West Midlands to be precise. 

Writing reviews began in the North for me so when an interesting opportunity came up to look at the music scene in the Midlands it was something a bit different, but that’s fine most people like a bit of variety. In this case the variety I sought was Robert Lane, a predominantly Blues/Rock/Singer-Songwriter with close ties to Birmingham, and strangely only the second detailed review I have really made about a male singer.


Robert Lane is a musician who since studying in nearby Wolverhampton has gone onward and outward spreading the message of his blues/folk music around quite far (Germany and Scotland as extreme examples) and alongside his other vocation as an actor has certainly been putting the hours in. He has appeared on several local BBC radio stations such as BBC Radio Nottingham, BBC Radio Shropshire, and BBC Radio WM, he has been warm-up acts for big names such as Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Ellie Goulding and has been a mainstay support act for a number of recognisable acts such as O’Hooley and Tidow (love these ladies), Steve Gibbons, and Alice Gold (and many others). Rob has attended a few festivals too and has previously launched a debut album entitled “Robert Lane”. He is currently touring (details here) in preparation for the launch of his work “End and Starts”, a new seven track album on 26th March 2015 by Fish Records (see here), so how is it?

In terms of the content of the album, Robert Lane’s voice feels relaxed and the disc’s character is equally breezy which has wide appeal. This matches the idea of a Spring release, something that feels like a disc which is bringing the cheer back after Winter. There is an easy-going nature that permeates the songs here despite the content being about loneliness, murder and separation- it is all communicated in a way which is easy on the ears. For a potentially introspective and weighty collection of topics, the artist brings the sensibilities of pop and blues rock to keep the music train moving without dwelling for too long so listeners who prefer the cheery side of melodies will be at home with this disc. It is not unusual for an album to be like an extension of an artist’s personality and, if that is the case here then it portrays a singer who recognises obstacles ahead but is an old hand at keeping optimistic and seeing a way through. Listeners who are looking for an uplift and instant impulse to dance will certainly find a lot of appeal in this album, it is not looking to explain or explore life’s ups and downs in detail, it comes across with the primary purpose to entertain (which it does as it shares it’s take on life). How about the songs?

The Songs


1. My Love’s in Deep

2. It Feels like 5000 Miles

3. Break My Heart Blues

4. Wilful Independent

5. Teardrop Tattoo

6. Alone Now

7. Mary’s Theme

There are seven tracks on the album, there are four which I will mention in this review.

The first track, “My Love’s in Deep” is a toe-tapping crowd pleaser that gets the disc started. It is upbeat and sways along in an optimistic manner, a bit like the PRS for Music song from the artist “Peace” I keep hearing when I go to the cinema. The difference is that this song has much better lyrical content and has a bit more character. It sets the scene quite nicely, the electric guitar accompanies and it ticks the boxes for audience participation with it’s gently encouraging lyrics, “you took me for dinner.. you wouldn’t let me pay.” It is a soft-rock track sang with enthusiasm that welcomes the album to the listener. Track two, “Break My Heart Blues” is instantly recognisable as a blues track with it’s warm riffs, sharp guitar interludes and a that voice that wraps and pulls the guiding lament through. Rob’s voice is both likable and young, “I’ve gone through hell, and I’m not doing so good.. and you know this time.. I really thought I would” and has the means to satisfy the most ardent fans of acoustic stylings. It serves not as an outright challenge to the music world or making a big claim; the song’s laidback and light touch gives it the feel that it would be played in a set after the crowd’s attention has been grabbed and the artist is seeking to keep the crowd with him, and this it does accomplish.  

“Alone Now”is a bit different. It is a the mix of Blues and 50s rock but there is an on older kind of ballad influence coming in compared to some of the previous tracks bringing some versatility to the singer’s range. Rob’s voice is a little different here, he is almost hearkening to Roy Orbison except with a more minimal, less orchestral backing. For some reason it reminds me of Mud’s “Lonely this Christmas” (title lyric similarities aside) as well or more recently in folk music some tracks and attitude from Marina Florance’s latest album; it must be something to do with the reverb on the vocal track of the radio cut that I heard for the review that gives it a different feel. It is a good indicator that Rob will be good at live performances (thought I admit I have not yet attended). What it shares with the other works mentioned is a sense of the yesteryear and showmanship, and potentially through further lyrical craft, a leading aspect of his musical self.

My favourite track on the album is Teardrop Tattoo. It is a funny old song which amuses and intrigues on a number of levels. I’m not entirely sure if it is meant to be taken as pure comedy especially as it is a song about a murderer but there is something about the song which entertains enormously. Throughout the album you become accustomed to Rob’s voice on the lighter, calmer side of things, then a song about a guy looking for victims comes out of the blue! It intrigues though because as he is reciting his own mantra, “I’m evil.. so evil.. just lock me away” you are not sure he could hurt a fly following his previous songs of love and loss. So far he hasn’t made you feel like he is a cold-blooded killer as the pace and mood of the guitar is quite sanguine, particularly on this track. But then on the other hand, Rob sounds a bit like Ed Norton, an actor who pulls off some of the best “crazy guy” roles without sounding like the grim reaper or looking like a body double for WWE’s The Undertaker, so a dilemma is brought about. I really like the track as it feels like a folk song that might turn over into a Tenacious D song within incredibly short notice. In the midst of a fairly sensible and serious album it can be seen as a glimmer of an emerging talent for characterisations that go outside his own natural voice and presentation. It is the song I will remember the most from Ends and Starts.

In the End…

You can tell Robert loves what he does. The album is consistent in it’s warmth and widespread appeal and has a knack for bringing with it a sunny disposition. It is relaxed, not in the sense of amateur jazz, but in a confident, modern performance from someone who clearly has a passion for the Blues and it’s powerful musical influences. There are no gimmicks on the tracks, they stand as they are so if you are keen on getting in knots with symbolic lyrics and the use of detailed commentaries of life from your music, you will not find that as much here. If you are a person of action who knows what music you like and sees gigs as an opportunity to get up and dance and have a good time, then Rob Lane is for you. The album is full of good cheer, the music is clean, approachable and Rob himself is enviably upbeat with a voice that is crystal clear. So what is there not to like?

Check out the sample videos below, have a listen!

Details of Rob’s current tour are here, his date at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on 26th March is the album launch date.. if you like what you hear then get down there as soon as possible! More details of this here.

For more details about Robert, go to his website at:

All photos in the above post belong to their respective owners, no claim of ownership is asserted or implied in their inclusion he