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with Jesus

By David Werther.

Jonny Lang, Fight For My Soul (SayRai Music, 2013)

           Jonny Lang is a powerhouse. His talent as a guitarist has allowed him to share the stage at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival with the likes of Buddy Guy and Ron Wood, and to join Guy, Billy Cox, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and others in the Experience Hendrix tour this fall. His singing is at least at the level of his guitar prowess.

           In Fight for My Soul Lang uses his double-barreled talent to depict his conflicts. His liner notes include the following, “Jesus my Lord. Thank you for loving me through every struggle and failure. I realize my need for you now more than ever. Please stay close to me. I love you!”

           Lang begins Fight for My Soul with “I Blew Up the House,” a song celebrating a complete break with “the man I was before.” “What You’re Looking For” is the Jonny Lang equivalent of C. S. Lewis’s “All get what they want; they do not always like it.” That song helps set the stage for the title cut, in which Lang tells the story of the daughter of a hooker and the son of an alcoholic, each of whom determines to break with “the family tradition.” In depicting the CD’s fights and struggles, Lang’s talent allows him to tap into the styles of Hendrix, Santana, Stevie Wonder, Motown and more. And, while this CD is not a guitar album per se, Lang leaves room for some scorching and wailing guitar work.

           There is nothing romantic or ethereal in Lang’s battles — any more than in Ransom’s struggle with the Unman of C. S. Lewis’s Perelandra; these are gritty fights where the stakes cannot be higher.

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