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Julian Lage|Speak To Me

Speak To Me

Julian Lage

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When you Google Julian Lage's name, one of the FAQs that pops up is: How is Julian Lage so good? But maybe the better question to ask is, How does he do it all? The former child prodigy of guitar, now in his mid-30s, has released 15 albums since 2009—not counting his extensive side work with John Zorn, as well as Gary Burton, Dave Douglas, Yoko Ono, Nels Cline, David Grisman and others. His fourth (in as many years) for Blue Note is never strictly jazz, which may rankle some protective fans. Lage is aware, and nonplussed. "Throughout my life, I've always responded to music that has a narrative quality to it," he has said of Speak to Me's boundary breaking. "I believe there is a kind of connective tissue that music has, and it's important, and it's fun to cultivate."

"Northern Shuffle" is a muscular six minutes of effortlessly showy blues riffs that punch and dart, like a boxer; Lage even dips into groovy, almost surf-like flourishes, as Levon Henry's tenor sax hollers. The last minute slides into a well-earned confident strut. Warm and acoustic-led, "Omission" has an Allman Brothers feel. Kissed with zither and Wurlitzer, "76" is charged with a juke-joint vibe: Lage brightly, tautly running blues riffs while Kris Davis kills it on keys. Producer Joe Henry—who has worked with the likes of Loudon Wainwright III, Rodney Crowell, Solomon Burke, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint and Rhiannon Giddens—is a good match for this wide-ranging, playful spirit.

Lage and Co. sometimes even traverse a few different terrains within a single song. "Vanishing Points" lets Davis' piano and Henry's alto clarinet run wild, Jorge Roeder (a captivating force throughout) takes a thoughtful solo, and Lage briefly flirts with a Spaghetti Western posture. "South Mountain" starts out on a more experimental, icy landscape then grows into a folky groove; at a point, Lage and his acoustic step out, allowing the rest of the band to noodle in a fashion that's more angular than aimless. "Myself Around You," meanwhile, simply lets Lage do all the lifting, his acoustic notes descending like Alice sliding into Wonderland, then covering as much ground as possible while skipping right back up. "Serenade" conjures a blue-moodiness, "Two And One" buzzes with improv electricity, and the nostalgic title track—a melange of jazz, blues-funk and good humor—smirks with a comical cinematic mystery. And when Lage leans all the way into jazz, as on the rich acoustic ballad "As It Were," it's like he's conducting the weather via guitar: a silver, soft fog that moves over and around you. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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Speak To Me

Julian Lage

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1
Hymnal
00:02:22

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Vibraphone, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
Northern Shuffle
00:06:05

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kris Davis, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Julian Lage, Arranger, Electric Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Levon Henry, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
Omission
00:03:26

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Electric Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2023 UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
Serenade
00:05:20

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Julian Lage, Arranger, Electric Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
Myself Around You
00:06:00

Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Work Arranger - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
South Mountain
00:05:14

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kris Davis, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Levon Henry, Clarinet, AssociatedPerformer - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Electric Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Speak To Me
00:04:14

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Julian Lage, Arranger, Electric Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Levon Henry, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
Two And One
00:04:19

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
Vanishing Points
00:04:26

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kris Davis, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Levon Henry, Alto Clarinet, AssociatedPerformer - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
Tiburon
00:04:25

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Julian Lage, Arranger, Electric Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
As It Were
00:05:07

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
76
00:04:36

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, Zither, Wurlitzer Electric Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kris Davis, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Levon Henry, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

13
Nothing Happens Here
00:04:14

Dave King, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Cook, A&R Admin - Patrick Warren, Keyboards, Wurlitzer Electric Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Henry, Producer - Jeff Powell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kris Davis, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Julian Lage, Arranger, Acoustic Guitar, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Levon Henry, Alto Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Rachel Jones, A&R - Jorge Roeder, Arranger, Double Bass, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Goodell, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kim Rosen, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Samuel Wahl, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nikki Young, A&R Admin

℗ 2024 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album review

When you Google Julian Lage's name, one of the FAQs that pops up is: How is Julian Lage so good? But maybe the better question to ask is, How does he do it all? The former child prodigy of guitar, now in his mid-30s, has released 15 albums since 2009—not counting his extensive side work with John Zorn, as well as Gary Burton, Dave Douglas, Yoko Ono, Nels Cline, David Grisman and others. His fourth (in as many years) for Blue Note is never strictly jazz, which may rankle some protective fans. Lage is aware, and nonplussed. "Throughout my life, I've always responded to music that has a narrative quality to it," he has said of Speak to Me's boundary breaking. "I believe there is a kind of connective tissue that music has, and it's important, and it's fun to cultivate."

"Northern Shuffle" is a muscular six minutes of effortlessly showy blues riffs that punch and dart, like a boxer; Lage even dips into groovy, almost surf-like flourishes, as Levon Henry's tenor sax hollers. The last minute slides into a well-earned confident strut. Warm and acoustic-led, "Omission" has an Allman Brothers feel. Kissed with zither and Wurlitzer, "76" is charged with a juke-joint vibe: Lage brightly, tautly running blues riffs while Kris Davis kills it on keys. Producer Joe Henry—who has worked with the likes of Loudon Wainwright III, Rodney Crowell, Solomon Burke, Bonnie Raitt, Allen Toussaint and Rhiannon Giddens—is a good match for this wide-ranging, playful spirit.

Lage and Co. sometimes even traverse a few different terrains within a single song. "Vanishing Points" lets Davis' piano and Henry's alto clarinet run wild, Jorge Roeder (a captivating force throughout) takes a thoughtful solo, and Lage briefly flirts with a Spaghetti Western posture. "South Mountain" starts out on a more experimental, icy landscape then grows into a folky groove; at a point, Lage and his acoustic step out, allowing the rest of the band to noodle in a fashion that's more angular than aimless. "Myself Around You," meanwhile, simply lets Lage do all the lifting, his acoustic notes descending like Alice sliding into Wonderland, then covering as much ground as possible while skipping right back up. "Serenade" conjures a blue-moodiness, "Two And One" buzzes with improv electricity, and the nostalgic title track—a melange of jazz, blues-funk and good humor—smirks with a comical cinematic mystery. And when Lage leans all the way into jazz, as on the rich acoustic ballad "As It Were," it's like he's conducting the weather via guitar: a silver, soft fog that moves over and around you. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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