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Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | A&M

Like his peers Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Chris Duarte, Jonny Lang is a technically gifted blues guitarist, capable of spitting out accomplished licks and riffs at an astonishingly rapid rate. That doesn't necessarily mean the album has much emotional weight -- Lang can deliver the style, but not the substance, simply because he still needs to grow as a musician. Lang does boast an impressive array of licks and instrumental technique, but he needs something more to make Lie to Me a substantive record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
$10.49

Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | A&M

Not content to be respected for his talents as an above average blues-rocker, Jonny Lang makes a rather abrupt change on his third album. Unfortunately, it's to a below average, religiously inspired, hard rocking singer/songwriter. Arriving nearly five years after his last release, there is no problem with Lang realigning himself and staking his claim as a more "adult" musician. But between over-the-top vocals that sound like he's straining to zip up his trousers and turgid tunes that lie languid between funk, hard rock, and bluesy R&B, the album lost whatever audience he still had and didn't acquire any newcomers either. Additionally the tracks are fattened up with multiple overdubs and Pro Tools-enhanced sweetening, making the majority of them sound like dated, second-rate Journey-styled arena rock. Some of the blame should be handed to producer/co-songwriter Marti Frederiksen, who seems to think that ladling on strings, drum tracks, and as much extraneous goop as possible will make Lang more "contemporary." It generally fails and one hopes that Lang can bounce back on his next project. Even the comparatively stripped-down "Touch" is obliterated by Lang's uncomfortably strained vocals that make it sound like he's trying to imitate Prince at karaoke night. The acoustic title track starts to make amends, but coming 13 songs in, it's too little too late. A closing "bonus live version" of Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" finally nails it, but Lang's singing is still pretentious, the blaring horns are overkill, and it only accentuates how subpar the material on the rest of the disc is. It's a major disappointment and setback for a once promising musician. ~ Hal Horowitz
$8.99

Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | A&M (UC)

On 2003's Long Time Coming, Jonny Lang made the first turn from his rap as an itinerant blues-rocker to being a spiritually inspired rock and pop songwriter. Producer Marti Frederiksen took Lang's tunes and glossed them to the breaking point, leaving the album an unfocused gobbledygook set of songs that had no center. Three years later, Lang returns with Turn Around. And the title does not refer to him turning back to his blues guitar slinger roots. Instead, the title refers to the biblical term that is the definition of the word "repent." (No mistake.) Lang's overt spirituality comes ringing through the mix created by Drew Ramsey Lang and Shannon Sanders. Turn Around is funkier, dressed in contemporary gospel, gritty rock and yes, the blues. Lang's still got a way to go as a songwriter, but the material here is infinitely better than it was on his last outing. The gospel underpinnings help because his "the Jonny Lang Thankful Choir" is no less than 13 voices strong. Unfortunately, the "anthem" on this record, "One Person at a Time," is just plain corny, talking about wishing for triple-platinum success, but if it "only reaches one set of ears/I will have fulfilled my purpose here...." C'mon. Nice sentiment, but as a song it's just plain lousy. Tracks like "Thankful," which utilizes the choir very effectively and employs duet vocalist Michael McDonald, is startlingly good. Another track that works well is "My Love Remains," which takes its opening riff from a very big radio hit of the '90s, and then inverts it. The track's real surprise is in Lang's falsetto vocal performance, which reveals a new depth for him as a singer. "Don't Stop for Anything," proves that Lang should just give up trying to be a hard rocker; he simply can't pull it off. Much better are his attempts at gritty soul, such as on "Anything's Possible (Don't Let 'Em)," which once again has dumb lyrics but as a singer's tune is a delight. It's as if he needs to prove to someone -- perhaps only to himself -- that he's arrived as a musician. The funky gospel and soul of "On My Feet Again" blends all of his talents as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter -- with killer horns and choir in the pocket -- and offers a real view of what this man is capable of. His acoustic numbers, such as "That Great Day" with mandolins, steel guitars, and a country gospel flavor are also noteworthy. Lyrically, he's singing from the heart, not his resentments on these tunes; he has nothing to prove to anybody anymore. It should also be noted that A&M is to be applauded for sticking by him with such a bold move. Ultimately, Turn Around is a great leap from Long Time Coming, and is an exciting if somewhat flawed hint at what is on the horizon as Lang develops further, becoming more confident in his role as a veteran instead of a boy wonder. ~ Thom Jurek
$12.99

Blues - Released January 1, 2010 | Concord Records, Inc.

Booklet
Nashville's Ryman Auditorium may no longer be the home of the Grand Ole Opry, but it is still known for country music. Jonny Lang claims the venue for the blues on this live recording, however. Before an enthusiastic audience, he turns in a representative set full of energy and screaming electric guitar playing. The band seems amped up from the outset on "One Person at a Time," a statement of purpose as well as a plea to disc jockeys to play Lang's music and help him to platinum status. Elsewhere, he sings of love gone wrong and right, as well as his determination to succeed. His voice is one of those functional ones for a blues musician who is more of an instrumentalist than a singer, as if he'd taken lessons from Eric Clapton and Warren Haynes. The point is expressiveness more than hitting the right notes. The ten-minute "Red Light" is the show's centerpiece, a philosophical ballad that keeps threatening to turn into Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" as Lang repeats "Everything is gonna be all right." "Thankful" is closer to gospel than the blues, which may be more appropriate to the venue. The songs are more than just platforms for Lang's guitar, just as the band is more than just musical support for it. But he is still a guitar hero, and this spirited performance only confirms that. ~ William Ruhlmann
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$14.99

Blues - Released September 8, 2017 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

Hi-Res Booklet
$12.99

Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Concord Records, Inc.

$12.99

Blues - Released January 1, 2010 | Concord Records

$8.99

Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | A&M Records

When reviewers heard teen-aged Jonny Lang's debut album of 1997, Lie to Me, many of them commented on how mature the blues singer/guitarist sounded for his age. Similarly, Lang's second album, Wander This World, often sounds like it could have been the work of a man of 30. With David Z. (known for his work with Prince) producing, the Midwesterner delivers an exciting sophomore effort that has as much to do with soul, funk, and rock as it does with actual blues. Far from a purist, Lang takes an approach that is best described as Albert Collins, B.B. King, and Luther Allison by way of Otis Redding, Stax Records, and Eric Clapton. While "Angel of Mercy" and the moody "Cherry Red Wine" demonstrate his mastery of the 12-bar format, most of the other selections aren't actual 12-bar blues, but rather Southern-style soul, funk, or rock with a wealth of blues feeling. Lovers of 1960s Memphis soul should appreciate "Walking Away" and "Second Guessing," while "The Levee" and "Still Rainin'" have more of a rock orientation. The haunting title song finds Lang singing a little too convincingly about loneliness -- even though Lang himself didn't actually write the lyrics -- hearing an adolescent sounding so world-weary and isolated is rather disconcerting. There's nothing even remotely bubblegum about this excellent CD, which proves that Lang's supporters had every right to be enthusiastic. ~ Alex Henderson
$1.49

Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Concord Records, Inc.

$1.49

Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | A&M Records

$1.49

Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | A&M Records

$14.99

Blues - Released September 8, 2017 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)