Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Best Music You Haven't Heard (Yet) - Jonny Lang

I remember when I was a young lad growing up in North Dakota, I saw a news report about another young North Dakotan playing a concert at the state fair. The kid was only a year or so older than me and yet the voice that was coming out of his body was that of a much older, much more grizzled and experienced blues singer. That kid was Jonny Lang.

Well, it's been almost 20 years since, and that kid that came out of Fargo is still going strong. Proving that it wasn't some kind of gimmick or schtick, Jonny keeps cranking out real, legit rock 'n' roll/blues music. True child prodigies come along perhaps once in a generation, and Jonny is ours.

His voice is what will grab you. The songs and the playing are what will keep you there. Jonny, unlike other popular "blues" artists (ahem!), doesn't tend to hold back on his albums. He lets loose, tearing up the record with soaring vocals and screaming guitar solos. He has a appreciable dedication to the music itself, writing the songs that he wants to write, regardless of what might or might not fit on a radio station rotation. Thus, you won't find Jonny getting spins on Clear Channel stations anytime soon, but you will find him out on tour. And if you think the albums are stellar (they are), the live show will blow you away.

Jonny is just past 30-years-old, but he brings with him a historical understanding of the music that he so marvelously creates. He is remarkably old-school for being so young, and his sound is a breath of fresh air during a time when music heritage is being lost due to the unyielding pursuit of the three-minute ear worm. No matter where you start with your listening, Jonny will not disappoint. You might want to begin early in his career, with albums like Lie To Me or Wander This World, which will get you to the ripe old age of 17. Or, if you'd rather move towards a more mature and diverse presentation of Lang's musicality, dig into Long Time Coming or the unrecognized masterpiece Turn Around.

Happy listening, people.

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