A Contemporary Progressive Blues Experiment From Legendary Guitar Slinger.
#As the reviews workload is building up to silly proportions at RMHQ we packed off our latest recruit Tony Pearce with a holdall full of CD’s to a secret Mediteranean location and didn’t allow him back until he had filled a notebook with his thoughts on the music involved.
Here’s the first………
I first came across Jonny Lang before his first album, Smokin’ was released in 1995. He was featured as part of a guitar magazine introduction to up and coming players and ripped through a scorching version of Matchbox. Not surprising too really as he had been playing professionally since the age of 13; and his subsequent live shows were full of a young guitar slinger full of speed and flash.
The latest album, Signs, is the first in four years and shows a completely different Jonny Lang. This one confirms his departure from the instrumentals that many people will remember him for, with
Make It Move kicking off the album. It’s something of a stomper and what’s apparent is we are a long way from the purist blues of old. Backing up his searing licks are handclaps and although he never was one to play straight licks lifted from Albert Collins or Freddie King he still plays some blistering solos and it doesn’t matter which track, he’s getting some serious tone from his guitar. His vocals have matured too, as have the arrangements of the 11 tracks on this album.
Snakes is the second track. Somewhat heavier than the first track, there are similarities though with the male backing vocals. Jonny Lang’s vocals are up front which is more than can be said for previous recordings. You can see this track being the last on the set list before leaving the stage, the crowd will definitely want more after this.
What You’re Made Of starts with an intro that’s reminiscent of John Mayer but that’s where the similarity ends. A Hammond B3 (or an electronic equivalent) is prominent throughout and the song is all the stronger for it. It’s a funky track with more of the choral backing. This track is perhaps the biggest departure from his bluesy reputation and arguably the most successfully done. This will be a stand out track for me and one I’ll return to often.
There are plenty of players out there who have the blues in their DNA and they never really move on and develop beyond riff-heavy songs. Tracks like Stronger Together and the afore-mentioned What You’re Made Of mark real growth of Jonny Lang not only as a player but as a songwriter too.
Looking forward to the live shows; especially Shepherds Bush Empire on November 4th.
Courtesy Tony Pearce.
Released August 25th 2017