Jonny Lang fans are going to realize from the first notes of Fight for My Soul that this is an entirely new musical direction for the performer who got his start as a 16-year-old blues prodigy. That was half a lifetime ago for Lang, and it’s been seven years since he made a studio album. He’s not the same person and this is not that sound.
Instead, fans are treated to great, smooth contemporary soul strongly influenced by Prince and artists like Justin Timberlake than any blues musician. We get original, personal lyrics about real life and real struggles presented in smooth style that emphasizes the vocals and not Lang’s phenomenal guitar playing.
There are few guitar solos here, a big departure from the past. Instead, Lang simply lets his superb playing complement his amazing voice and lets the vocals garner the listener’s attention, and what a beautiful and expressive instrument it is.
Then there are songs like “Not Right,” and “What You’re Looking For,” which could easily be from a classic soul CD by Curtis Mayfield. They are similar to Mayfield not only stylistically, especially with the chorus of background vocals on “Not Right” and the rhythmic singing and heavy percussion on both songs, but lyrically as well.
The release also has the sensitive powerful pop ballad “The Truth” as well, which does allow Lang to showcase both his beautiful voice, control and guitar in an honest and deeply touching song. Another highlight is the Christmas-themed ballad “Seasons,” which definitely has a Paul McCartney sort of vibe and should become a seasonal staple. Elsewhere, “All of a Sudden” is a beautiful and autobiographical acoustic love song that resonates with honest emotion
The CD ends with the scrumptious love anthem “I’ll Always Be,” which begins with a simple piano accompaniment and builds to include drums and guitar and which display the mature man and musician he has become. It also includes the best guitar solo on the entire CD.
Jonny Lang is obviously not a kid anymore. He’s a husband and father and when he decided to go in a new direction, he did it with his whole heart. The CD is all about facing choices and surviving change and growing up. For new listeners and old fans with open minds who embrace Lang’s growth and new direction, this is one of the best contemporary soul and pop CDs of the year so far.