Published On: Sun, Aug 27th, 2017

Johnny Lang Signs review: Superbly written and constructed


Jonny Lang 

Signs  ****

(Provogue Records/Mascot Labels Group

A blues guitar prodigy with a raspingly mature voice, 36-year-old Lang has been making records since he was a teenager and won a Grammy for his 2006 release Turn Around. 

Signs, his first album for four years, is superbly written and constructed: kicking off with the raw stomp of Make It Move before settling into a series of compositions that effortlessly combine his hard-edged but soulful voice with a real feel for the sort of melodic blues that connects with a pop audience. 

Snakes, Last Man Standing and the title track, his voice sprawling into a larynx-shredding falsetto, are superb, all laced with his incisive and explosive guitar. The undoubted highlight, however, is Bring Me Back Home, a ballad sung with a restraint and sensitivity that recalls the great Michael McDonald.

Judy Dyble & Andy Lewis 

Summer Dancing ****

(Acid Jazz

Andy Lewis is the sharp producer and arranger whose 2007 album, You Should Be Hearing Something Now!, is a lost pop classic; vocalist Judy Dyble is a 68-year-old folk legend and founding member of Fairport Convention. Together they have done something extraordinary: made an album of sublime, pastoral folk with witty psychedelic leanings that grips from start to finish and showcases, beautifully, Dyble’s oh-so-genteel English phrasing. 

No Words, in particular, is just lovely: the sort of drifting, harmonised gem that would have Brian Wilson nodding with approval.

The War On Drugs 

A Deeper Understanding ** 

(Atlantic

The War On Drugs’ third album Lost In The Dream was a surging powerful set that gave the Philadelphia band their commercial breakthrough. By contrast A Deeper Understanding is a profound disappointment. 

Each of many lengthy tracks meander on repetitively with songwriter Adam Granduciel – clearly besotted to the point of mania with someone or something – endlessly either falling from the sky or staring at the dark. 

The comparatively pithy Knocked Down wrestles some entertainment from his lovelorn restlessness but the rest will send most listeners diving for the fast-forward button.

Together Pangea 

Bulls & Roosters ***

(Nettwerk

Opening with Sippy Cup that starts, Martin Amis-style, with the singer dreaming his teeth have fallen out, good-time LA quartet Together Pangea aim for a garage-band recklessness and almost accidentally make a fine pop album.

The breezy Kenmore Ave., parodying Ticket To Ride, and Peach Mirror are both terrific.


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