Signs is Jonny Lang's first album in four years. The Grammy award winning songwriter and guitarist may be only 36 but has already has had an impressive career for two decades. After his debut album went platinum at the age of 15, Lang has continued to evolve as an artist fusing together funk, rock and blues in his records. Gradually moving away from blues purism to create passionate, universally cathartic music in his own style that is far from derivative.
Signs is filled with scuzzy dirty blues rock with a youthful sunny Californian feel. Snakes in the Grass is raw with the gutsy instrumentation fans of Lang have come to expect. His soloing throughout the album is fiery and passionate and with punctuated rhythms. Last Man Standing could easily be from classic rock album with its bold sound and catchy hooks.
It's not only his musical style that shifts as the album progresses. Lang's vocal range leaps from raspy rock to immaculate and soulful. What You're Made Of is a good example of this transition as he not only played with time Signatures but also with a more modern percussive groove.
By the time we reach the halfway stage there is no indication of slowing down and moving away from a big production sound, he's not one for pairing back as a lyric from Bitter End suggests 'the beast is back out of his layer', this impressive beastly production is certainly on a sonic rampage as Lang relishes building the song structures and creating tension in the tracks with rising refrains and powerhouse choruses. But the full sound is not just there for show War cleverly uses the aching guitar solos to express the isolation that words cannot and Wisdom shifts the drum patterns to create a more southern American feel and a darker tone.
Bring Me Back Home uses a softer piano based approach with subtle guitar replies. Lang's love of soul and gospel is really shown here and expressed in his tender vocal delivery and insightful lyrical sentiments no doubt commenting on some of his own life lessons. The album comes to a climax with the acoustic layered Singing Songs which has more of a folk world music feel as it prepares to change style again.
Once again taking his listeners on his own personal journey Signs is a stellar example of Lang's continued skill as a songwriter and guitarist.
Groupie Rating 4/5