"Turn Around" (A&M; 2006)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Jonny Lang started with a fire in his gut. He played guitar like a seasoned bluesman and his voice was gruff enough that he could pass for a 40 year-old (until you saw his baby face). In 1997 he released “Smokin” when he was only 15 years old.

Times have changed for Mr. Lang. He’s older and more matured. This release is aptly entitled “Turn Around” because it’s a Christian release. This CD won a Grammy for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album.

A lot of what measured Lang as a great blues guitar player has long vanished. He does pull a few riffs out of his repertoire but they are not what you’re used to hearing from him. The solos are slow and he sounds like he doesn’t even want to play them. This album is gospel ... I mean juke joint sounding gospel. Lang moved from the smoke-filled blues bar to the clear air of the church with no apologies; instead, it was more like a plea. He writes on “One Person At A Time” that if he can reach just one person, he’s fulfilled his purpose.

Jonny Lang was headed down a path that he didn’t want to go anymore: drugs, alcohol, and a failing marriage. He “turned” his life around and now he’s giving back to God. This is not the Jonny Lang you are used to, but it’s his life, and his talent.

I’ll admit I was taken back when I read about this release from him. I liked Lang’s guitar playing, his singing voice was a two-packs-a-day sound. He attempts some falsetto on this offering and I’m not sure he should continue this route. He has a great gospel voice, if you’re at a church on Sunday morning in Mississippi. It seems that Jonny Lang has moved toward a different style and completely different sound and I can do nothing else but wish him the best.

The best songs to download are “Bump In The Road,” “Don’t Stop (For Anything),” and “It’s Not Over.”

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"Long Time Coming" (A&M; 2003)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

The 90s saw a surge of young blues guitar players hit the scene and Jonny Lang, who picked up the guitar at age 12 and recorded his first disc at age 15, was one of those to capture much attention. This disc, however, was received by fans of his earlier work with less than stellar response. Those expecting the older style of blues heard on Lang's previous releases would still find some of that here, but with a more contemporary twist. I believe in letting an artist grow musically, and I’m not bashing Mr. Lang for his choice of direction, but I was a little taken back by this release.

On "Long Time Coming," a softer sound emits from Lang's guitar. He still has that blues blood running through his veins and it can still be heard, just not quite as clearly. Quite possibly, that was Lang's intention, wishing the new music to be absorbed rather than just more of what his listeners had come to expect. The smoky blues sound that permeated his earlier records seems to have been replaced with a boy’s night out feel and fans can be fickle at times such as this.

Lang does show some promise on “Livin’ For The City,” which is a Stevie Wonder tune played live, but it may not be heard seeing as it’s placed at the end of the disc. 

Hopefully Jonny can regroup and find a producer who knows a great musician when he is sitting next to him. This one would be for the fans only.

The best tracks are “Give Me Up Again,” “Get What You Give,” and “Livin’ For The City.”

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2009 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Nov 2021 13:23:28 -0500.