Electric Blues
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Jonny Lang
Wander This World
A&M 1998
Review Published June 15, 1999
Artist Spotlite on Jonny Lang

Track Listing
  1. Still Rainin'
  2. Second Guessing
  3. I Am
  4. Breakin' Me
  5. Wander This World
  6. Walking Away
  7. The Levee
  8. Angel Of Mercy
  9. Right Back
  10. Leaving To Stay
  11. Before You
    Hit The Ground
  12. Cherry Red Wine
EB Rating - 3.0

    When Jonny Lang released his debut CD Lie To Me in 1996 amid a barrage of hype and promotion, it was met with mixed reviews. Some loved it, others down-played Jonny's talent, held his young age against him, and wrote the whole deal off as commercial exploitation. Yes, his explosion onto the blues scene may have been somewhat orchestrated, and he is basically a call and response style guitar player (meaning he usually only plays lead breaks, not much in the way of rhythm riffs). However, I liked his debut CD a lot, and feel Jonny has certain elusive qualities that escape many emerging artists.
    While there are undoubtedly countless struggling blues guitarists more technically proficient than Jonny, the truth is he is a talented player, albeit limited in scope, and has important qualities that many of the others lack... an individual sound and style that is expressive, unique and easily identifiable. Reqular readers know I'm a blues-rockin', hot licks guitar fan, but an emotional and individual playing style is important as well. And he has a personable and entertaining stage presence. Not as important as talent and style, but still, it's another significant asset. And before I forget, Jonny can sing too, damn well in fact. I'd say he's higher up the todem pole among his peers in the vocals department than he is on guitar.
    So, with all this positive press, why do I seem to be avoiding the subject of this review? Well, frankly, from the perspective of a blues listener, Wander This World just doesn't provide much material to work with. Simply put, this is not a blues CD. The opening and closing cuts are the only blues numbers on the CD. They are both excellent. Having said that, this blues review is concluded. The rest of the CD consists of soft rock, pop, and soul ballads, sometimes having the feel of a typical Eric Clapton mainstream offering, other times reminicent of the Michael Jackson style. I'm not saying this is necessarily bad, but it damn sure ain't the blues, which makes this CD quite uninteresting to me.     I wouldn't recommend this CD to any blues fan I know. If you already own and enjoy Lie To Me, stick with that and be happy with what you have. If you're a blues fan looking to find out for yourself if Jonny is a legitimate blues artist or not, pick up his debut release and base your judgements on his efforts on that CD.

Visitor Comments

Hey I like the site alot and really dig what you're doing for the blues. I really disagree with your review for Jonny Lang's "Wonder This World" CD though. Maybe you just prefer pure blues, which is not an insult by any means, but I think it's absolutely incredible that this young guy is already reaching out into soul, funk ("I Am") and great songwriting ("Walking Away", "Before You Hit The Ground"). I do agree that the only true blues songs are the bookends of the disc, but so what? Forget about categories and pigeon-holing for a moment and just listen to it. The guitar playing and singing is absolutely unbelievable compared to Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who, while I like his stuff and have both his albums, is repetitive (in guitar playing and song style) and relies off SRV licks. Jonny definitely has done his homework and knows what music from the soul is. I can put this CD on and listen to the whole thing without skipping over a song. This is by far my favorite CD and artist at the moment because it is diverse. As far as only playing lead lines and no rhythm, take up that issue with the true king: B.B. King and see if you don't come away humbled. Take another listen to Jonny, I beg you! In conclusion, I don't mean to sound rude to you or your site because it totally rocks and you're by all means allowed to your opinion, but I urge you to listen again. Thanks for you time.
Kyle - 7/10/99
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