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Jonny Lang's Latest, "Turn Around," Out Sept. 19; Listen To "Anything's Possible"

August 6th, 2006 11:10am EDT
Jonny LangTen years into his illustrious recording career, Jonny Lang has come to a point in which he’s decided he needs to do something different. The release of his upcoming A&M album Turn Around is bringing upon a new spiritual side to Jonny’s music and emphasizing his excellent musical talent as a singer-songwriter.

Jonny has a message for you. Sure, he's been in touch before, speaking often with his guitar in the language of deep blues and searing rock & roll. But Turn Around is different. The guitar is still there, whispering sometimes, occasionally even screaming. Now, though, it's just one voice in a chorus of sounds-the tight band, the passionate singing, and lyrics that conjure beauty as well as pain and speak the truth, all at the same time.

The Grammy-nominated, former prodigy instrumentalist, who topped the Billboard New Artist chart with his first album at age 15, stands now as a mature creative force, made more sensitive yet also toughened by life's adventures. He's learned what it means to rise above hard times and to find meaning where chaos seemed to rule.

Jonny LangThese insights, and the emotions they unleash, make Turn Around the pivotal album of Jonny Lang's career to date-- a passage that links the triumphs of his past to the promise of his future.

A soul-stirring organ, played by Grammy-winning producer Shannon Sanders, forecasts the surge of music that follows on Turn Around: the stomping funk of "Bump in the Road," the startling climax that closes "The Other Side of the Fence," the electrifying vocal exchanges with Michael McDonald on "Thankful," and on the opposite extreme, the work-gang chant that drives "Turn Around" and the profound intimacy of "Only a Man."

Turn Around is all of this and more, a tumble of musical colors that dazzle and soothe. And in the end, they achieve coherence through the meaning that Lang conveys so urgently.

"With this album I want to focus, more than ever before, on my purpose in life," he explains. "I've been so incredibly blessed. My wife and I just had our fifth anniversary. I get to do what I love for a living. But it wasn't so long ago that I was spiraling downward in a lot of ways."

Jonny LangFor all the conviction that Lang brings to Turn Around, the album began almost as an afterthought. Lang was in the studio one day with his producer, Ron Fair, who is also president of A&M/Interscope Records. There wasn't anything pressing on the agenda; they were doing routine work on the final stages of Lang's previous record, Long Time Coming. Then, out of the blue, Fair said something completely unexpected.

"He looks at me and goes, 'Dude, you need to make a gospel record,'" Lang says, laughing at the recollection. "Now, I hadn't really mentioned much to Ron about that side of my life, but for some reason he knew where I was at. So I thought about it for just a second and said, 'Yes, I do.'"

There is plenty of gospel in Turn Around, especially in the choir that riffs through Thankful and It's Not Over. But rustic country (On That Great Day, with guests Buddy Miller and Sam Bush), Motown funk (One Person at a Time), jazzy folk (My Love Remains), and other influences flavor this music too. In this varied setting, "gospel" has more to do with the spirit that animates these tracks than any category it might inhabit.

The Rolling StonesAgain, the unity in this diversity comes from Lang himself. A professional musician since age 12, Lang rocketed from his hometown of Fargo, North Dakota, to international renown in his mid teens. While kids his age were still playing high school gigs, he was touring with giants like The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, trading licks with mentors like B. B. King and Buddy Guy, and being lauded by U.S. News and World Report for having "the voice of a grizzled blues veteran … and guitar skills to match."

AerosmithTurn Around proves that, unlike many one-time wunderkind performers, Jonny Lang has grown to exceed the expectations that heralded his ascendance. Produced by and songwriter/performers Drew Ramsey and Shannon Sanders, and Lang; and anchored and elevated by former Prince NPG rhythm dynamo Michael Bland, Turn Around is Lang's fifth album-but it's also the first of what will become his most moving and enduring works.

"Every record I've done has felt progressively more and more like the real me," he sums up. "But more than anything I've done, this one comes straight from my heart."

That, then, is the message of Jonny Lang: To Turn Around, you move ahead. It's that simple-and powerful.

Check out Anything's Possible from "Turn Around":

Windows Media | Real Audio

Turn Around also features a collaboration with Nickel Creek’s violinist Sara Watkins and hits stores September 19; and Jonny is on tour now, click HERE for tickets!

(Streaming audio and/or video links may expire without notice)




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