Sound — 7
Blues guitarist and musician Jonny Lang began making a respected name for himself at an early age. By the time he was 13, his gritty singing style was compared to that of a 40-year-old blues veteran, and his consistent use of wide vibratos in his guitar solos caught the attention of his audience. At age 18, Jonny was invited to play for a White House audience which included President and Mrs. Clinton. Jonny would later embark on a ten year touring schedule, during which time he performed alongside The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, B.B. King and Buddy Guy, amongst others. Jonny also frequently participates as part of the Experience Hendrix tour alongside many other well respected musicians. With such a rigorous touring schedule, it's not that surprising that Jonny has not released any new studio material since 2006's "Turn Around," which reached the number one position on the US Billboard Christian album charts (throughout his eighteen year music career, Jonny has tried his hand at multiple different musical genres, not only the blues, but rock and gospel as well). Despite how captivating his work has been on the road with such a commendable resume of artists, fans have been waiting patiently for almost a decade for new original studio material. Jonny Lang finally delivers with his first new album in seven years, titled "Fight for My Soul." "Fight for My Soul" is a proud collection of eleven new compositions. Just as he has ventured out into new directions on his previous outings, Jonny Lang moves into another new musical style with his new studio album: this time, it's a style which contains noticeable elements of R&B, soul and pop. This new style is arguably best showcased in the album's lead single "Blew Up (The House)," which begins with a David Bowie-esque combination of high-in-the-mix percussion playing and a complementary guitar riff. Jonny's instantly distinguishable singing style rises over the instrumentation and serves as a familiar tie back to his earlier efforts. "The Truth" is a more traditional Jonny Lang-sounding song, which begins with an eloquent blues lick and gradually increases in strength with Lang's singing, distorted rhythm guitar and the same style of percussion playing mentioned above.
Lyrics — 6
Jonny Lang's singing style on his new studio album is arguably the main element, alongside the album mixing, that provides "Fight for My Soul" a pop edge. His vocal range remains in his higher octave throughout the entire album, and if we brought in a few backup vocalists it would make for some standout melodies. This addition would be one that would truly benefit the album; however this is not the case, and instead Jonny is singing solo to several different musical genres. In my honest opinion, Jonny needs an element to tie the everything together. When you have a bright vocalist singing over gloomy blues guitar, funk-inspired grooves and upbeat gospel all on one album, it makes for an awkward listening experience. For these reasons, Jonny's vocal performance ends up being about the only weak element in this entire new release.
Overall Impression — 7
For the first time in seven years, Jonny Lang steps back into the studio and picks up right where he previously left off with his new studio album, "Fight for My Soul." Just as he did with his previous releases, Jonny tries his hand at several different musical genres. While the instrumental side of this album is standout and Jonny's guitar playing has never been better, vocally it admittedly falls a little flat. The plain vocal performance ends up being an unfortunate downside to an otherwise very good return-to-form. That all being said, any established fan will be able to enjoy Jonny Lang's newest outing. Any guitarist with an open mind and ear for different musical genres should also be able to appreciate the complexity of some of Jonny's blues-flavored tracks, such as the aforementioned "The Truth."