Daniel Lanois says new U2 album is 'fantastically innovative'

If you ask Canadian record producer Daniel Lanois about how U2's work-in-progress album sounds, he'll say it's "fantastically innovative" and "some of their best work."

But before Lanois gets back to tinkering with the tracks -- the album is one of 2009's most anticipated releases -- he's tackling his real "dream project," touring in support of his own music.

Lanois just finished two weeks of recording work with the Irish mega-band in New York and will now play a handful of shows in Ontario and Boston before flying to London, England, for another 10 days in the studio with U2.

Playing music live is a critical part of being a good producer because it helps reinforce what makes a good song that connects with listeners, Lanois said in a telephone interview.

"By performing live it really helps me to do better work in the studio, because you become aware of what works in the presence of an audience," he said.

"It's a necessary part of one's awareness and education, and you'll make better records if you play live."

Lanois has several albums and dozens of production credits to his name, and has worked with some of the biggest acts in music including Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and Emmylou Harris.

He helped mould some of U2's classic albums by co-producing The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. He also co-produced All That You Can't Leave Behind and one song off How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.