Smokin (1995)

Back in 1996, very young yet enormously talented blues singer-songwriter and guitarist Jonny Lang released his breakthrough “Lie To Me”, which featured some unthinkable guitar chops and vocal performances for a 15-year-old kid. But it was not Lang’s first attempt: young man already showed what he’s capable of on his 1995’s debut record “Smokin’”. That full-length was recorded with a hometown band “The Big Bang”, who taught child everything they knew about blues and placed him as a front man. Is it common to have a front man who is 14? Not really. But that’s not about Jonny: his voice was already mastered by nature for singing blues and soul. Add some outstanding guitar skills and astonishing musical abilities in general and you’ve got the answer: its high school-aged teen, signing a deal with a major label.

But first, young one needed to prove one thing: was he ready to write? And, with help from local friends, Kid Jonny Lang and The Big Bang independently recorded and self-released “Smokin’”, an album, which was clearly made to showcase Lang’s talent. But despite that goal, the band sounded surprisingly good altogether as a whole. Track list is filled with a number of favorable American’s most famous genre’s songs, with soulful singer, who rocks like a 50-year-old experienced blues performer rather than teenager. Moreover, there are a few almost Eric Clapton-great solos, however it’s not clear who’s responsible for this kind of work: LP features a second guitar player other than Lang.

Overall, it was an idea in the making, just a taste of what a Jonny Lang album will actually be. From a song structuring point of view, there’s not so much to talk about: just 11 decent blues tracks, mixed with soul and funk. Typical lyrics, routine melodies, which sound relaxed and effortless, just the way it’s supposed to be. After all, it’s Lang’s capabilities and band’s coherence as a live act – those are two main factors to enjoy, while listening to “Smokin’”. Let’s hope one day will see their reunion on a concert.

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