Culture

Bluesman should stick to the blues

Jonny Lang was an old bluesman soul trapped in a 15-year-old’s body when he released his first album in 1997. Now 24, Lang is a young man singing timeless messages with a new (though not necessarily better) sound in Turn Around.

He’s still got the blues vibe down with a wailing lead guitar that echoes the vocal line in “The Other Side of the Fence.” He’s got soft fuzzed distortion covered in “One Person at a Time.” In the title track, he keeps time as steady as Pink Floyd does in “Money.” Lang proves himself as a maturing artist on upbeat bluesy tracks such as these, but the superficial ballads and unnecessary gospel singers nearly negate the former child prodigy’s progress.

Enter: pop, gospel, and falsetto. “My Love Remains” could almost pass for a Backstreet Boys song with the acoustic guitar picking and whiny vocals. On simplistic “Only a Man,” Lang sings as high as his guest female vocalist that just sounds false, not falsetto. An choir backs him up on “Thankful,” overshadowing his impressive interchanges with Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.

Lyrically, Turn Around is Lang’s message to the world-be thankful for what you have, live for the moment, believe in yourself. And in “The Other Side of the Fence,” he plays off clich

October 6, 2006

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