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Jeff Lang: Cedar Grove

C. Michael Bailey By

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In the beginning, God created the slide guitar.1 And this was good, but God needed someone to play the damn thing and so he created Charlie Patton, Son House, and Robert Johnson.2 When Robert Johnson went to see the devil, he kept a close eye on him.3

That was a good start, but then came along Tampa Red, Elmore James, and JB Hutto4. The language began to grow and change.5 Out of the White Diaspora came the prophets Duane Allman, Johnny Winter, and Lowell George6. They came not to replace the law, but to fulfill it.7 These three established the New Covenant. That was the Covenant of Virtuosity.8

A new family of players is carrying on the blues language.9 Chris Whitley, John Campbell, Eric Sardinas, Sonny Landreth, and Jeff Lang have stepped in and kept it true.10


Jeff Lang, an Australian who has been recording since the mid-1990’s, has emerged as a premiere slide guitarist. In an era where no guitar Gods have emerged, Lang finds himself the king of the six-string from Down Under. Recently he contributed to the very fine Exile: Blues on Main Street , a tribute to the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, on "Sweet Virginia." In that six minutes, Lang presented more slide guitar concepts than could possibly be perceived by even the most astute listener.

Cedar Grove, Lang’s 1998 release, boasts of the blues but offers much more. No enigma, Lang boldly lays all of his creative cards on the table and ably plays in whatever guitar style he damn well pleases. The opener, "Prepare Me Well," and "Is She Slipping" find Lang extending the language of Michael Hedges and William Ackerman (and Stephen Stills, for that matter—think "Black Queen") with a percussive, highly rhythmic presentation.

In other places, Lang approaches the blues more directly, predating the derivative White Stripes by several years and providing virtuosity and musicianship more original than Jack White. "Easy To Kill," "Cutthroat," and "Call Letter Blues" are humid with Delta Heat cum Chicago. Lang’s guitar deftly cuts through 80 years of delta history from 4,000 miles away. This is cool guitar god music. In a period when when the major record companies are supporting considerably less talented artists, the quiet Wind River is promoting a superior talent in Jeff Lang. One can only hope that more envelope-pushing music comes from down under.

For more information, see Jeff Lang .


Track Listing: Prepare Me Well; Is She Slipping; To Easy To Kill; Cedar Grove; Bateman

Personnel: Jeff Lang

Title: Cedar Grove | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Wind River


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