Recording information: Brownstone Recording, Nashville, TN; Stagg Street Studios, Van Nuys, CA; The Libraray Studio, Joelton, TN; Upstream, Utah; Voodrew Room, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Daniella Hovsepian.
Since Jonny Lang began his career as a blues revivalist, it can sometimes be surprising how thoroughly he attempts to connect with the modern world on his albums. On 2013's Fight for My Soul, he dug deep into his interior world, but on its successor Lang looks outside of himself and attempts to sort through the ball of confusion that's 2017. All throughout Signs, he's looking at a world in chaos and attempting to find markers to lead him through. Some of these guideposts are indeed familiar. He remains a disciple of '70s blues-rock, especially Hendrix, and he does frequently crank up the amps and vamps, but he spends nearly as much time settling into soulful grooves. Sometimes, these cool R&B rhythms are kinetically funky, sometimes they're smooth and relaxed, and they add some dimension here, as does the wistful acoustic closer, "Singing Songs." Additionally, these soulful accents underscore how Lang intends Signs to be inclusive, not exclusive. One of the centerpieces is "Stronger Together," a nicely grooving anthem of togetherness that also echoes Hillary Clinton's campaign slogan of 2016. This may be as explicitly political as Lang gets on Signs, but with the raging "Bitter End" and tentative optimism of "Into the Light," it's clear that he designed this album be a balm for troubled times, and it's hard not to admire that openheartedness. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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