by Bea Willis
Jonny Lang is a blues guitar wonder with a raspy full voice that has been making blues records since he was a teenager. The now thirty-six-year-old has won a Grammy for his 2006 release Turn Around and has just released his follow-up album Signs. Marking his first album in four years, Signs contains superbly written and constructed songs and aggressive blues guitar, the way it should be! The eleven tracks on Signs will be a treat to your ears and one long overdue.
Kicking off the project is an acoustic guitar based stomp called “Make It Move.” Lang’s vocals have a wide-range and his tone is pure blues with attitude. Leading to a vocal harmony for a nice touch in the chorus, the song has a form that keeps you interested and moving along in the story. Building over time, the energy is finally brought to a climax with heartfelt high falsetto vocal screams and blues drenched electric guitar.
“Stronger Together” highlights Lang’s more blues/pop writing abilities. Sung with a warm direct approach and full vocal harmonies, the song evolves like a well-written radio hit, but with an outstanding guitar solo, in keeping with the blues. With a strong back beat, this track will keep you entertained and toe tapping. Lang’s vocal fills at the end of the track are a nice touch, and show his maturity as a vocalist who continues to outstretch.
The prodigious songwriting continues with the powerful track “Bitter End,” which builds nicely and has a catchy chorus that is framed by Lang’s guitar playing. Lang’s guitar solo is full of emotion and heartfelt bends. However, the real highlight of this album is Lang’s powerful vocals, robust, heartfelt and his range and vocal command is outstanding.
Overall, Signs is an album that brings out the best of Lang’s songwriting and singing in various styles. There is more guitar and blues here than some of Lang’s previous efforts, which should make blues guitar fans happy, but the focus is on Lang’s continued songwriting evolution. The result is an album filled with memorable music and excellent guitar work, all tied together with remarkable vocals.
Tracks to sample first: “Make It Move,” “Stronger Together,” “Bitter End” and “Into the Light.” The song to take a chance on is “Wisdom.”