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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jonny Lang

Live at the Ryman

Review by Gary Hill

This live album from Jonny Lang is good, but not great. The truth is, had Lang stuck more towards his blues roots it would be a more powerful disc. When he does the blues there are few in the same pew as he is in terms of quality. It’s when he turns to his new found interest in gospel music that the set lags. Still, it’s a solid live performance.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
One Person At A Time

They fire out with a killer blues jam. There’s some cool retro keys on this and a bit of a Living Colour styled groove at times. It’s a great opener. There’s a screaming guitar solo on this.

Bump In The Road
The ghosts of Living Colour are exorcised here as this is more purely R & B and blues oriented. Still, I can make out a bit of Lenny Kravitz on this retro sounding rocker. 
Turn Around
Here we get a screaming hard-edged blues rocker. This is a great tune with as much Stevie Ray built into it as it has retro rock stylings.
Give Me Up Again
This is a lot mellower number, but it’s very blues oriented. It gets revved up a bit more when it hits the chorus, but it’s still not the screamer that the previous one was. It derives most of the power from the evocative vocals. For my money the verse reminds me a lot of “People Get Ready”. 
A Quitter Never Wins
Here we get a slow blues that’s quite intense. This is pretty much pure blues, too – but the real hard rocking, electric type. We get some great instrumental work from all involved here. This is definitely one of the highlights of the set. 
Red Light (Band Intros)
This is literally a little instrumental interlude where Lang introduces the members of his band. 
Red Light
I’m not sure I would have devoted over ten minutes of the show to this song. It’s a gospel cut that’s OK, but the excess time would have probably been better served by something like an extended version of “A Quitter Never Wins”.
Don't Stop (For Anything)
A more bluesy number, this is strong. It’s not anything extremely out of the ordinary, but it’s potent nonetheless. 
Thankful
Another gospel piece, there’s some real heart and soul in this one. It’s in somewhat the same vein as “Red Light” but much stronger.
I Am
A mellower cut, this has a lot of classic rock and a lot of R & B built into the model. It’s not one of my favorite cuts, though. It’s got a good groove, but just doesn’t feel all that special. It does improve later as it gets an increased level of intensity.
Breakin' Me
This is a little better. It’s still nothing exceptionally special, but it’s got a lot of emotion woven into the tapestry. That helps to elevate it.
Lie To Me
Here we get Lang’s hit, the bluesy rocker that put him on the musical map. It’s a strong cut and a good addition to the set. It makes for an excellent closer.
 
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