EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 22, 2013

Jonny Lang comes to the Wilbur

Now a father of four, the guitar whiz-kid has released his first album in seven years


Seven years is nearly one-fourth of his life.

“I didn’t think of it in those terms. Now I’m really depressed,” Lang, 32, said with a chuckle. “I wanted to wait until we had some time where I could both be at home and work on the record. It took a while to find the right places to record. I didn’t want to be the dad who’s gone all the time.”

After recording four studio albums for A&M/Interscope, Lang finally got to make the kind of album he has long wanted to make.

“In albums past, I was afraid a little bit to completely let go,” he admitted. “I would steer the songs in the way people would expect them. This time I wasn’t worried if this was blues-rock enough for people or, ‘Is this guitar-centric enough?’ I was conscious to just let it be what it is.”

“Fight for My Soul” embraces different styles — blues, rock, soul, pop, gospel — with Lang adding some new Santana-evoking guitar licks and even some flamenco passages and using some fuller, almost Broadway-like arrangements. Under the direction of producer Tommy Sims, he even sometimes sings with a new, softer voice.

“That voice was always there,” he said. “Not hearing it in the past was me trying to stay away from that and me being more the rough-voice guy. In this one, I didn’t care about that. The songs are more dramatic on this record and call for that deliberate quiet.”

“Fight for My Soul” is clearly a spiritual album, although Lang never mentions the Lord or Jesus by name. His previous album, “Turn Around,” was more overtly religious and earned a Grammy for best rock gospel album.

“The only goal is to try to be a blessing with music,” said Lang, who became a regular churchgoer after marrying actress Haylie Johnson in 2001. “In that sense, it is spiritual for me.”

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