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If the international buzz surrounding Jeff Lang is any indication, the Australian guitar wiz is well on his way to becoming a musical force to be reckoned with. Cedar Grove, an 11-song collection, brings together a wealth of influences for an album that gives new meaning to the term "roots music."
In the nine years since he began playing out Down Under, Lang has won critical and popular acclaim for his guitar work -- a combination of intricate fingerings, charismatic style and technical mastery -- as well as for his artful songwriting, which some have likened to Dylan and Richard Thompson.
Lang grew up in Geelong, Victoria, where, having ditched his first instrument, the clarinet, in favor of a guitar, he began delving into his dad's record collection, savoring the music of Rory Buchanan, Ry Cooder and Eric Clapton, as well as pioneers like Skip James and Blind Willie Johnson.
By the early 90s, Lang had gained a reputation as an outstanding blues guitarist. His kick-ass licks and slippery smooth slide quickly earned him an opening slot with Albert Collins. Though Jeff was primarily playing electric guitar with a rhythm section at that time, he noticed that the solo acoustic songs he used to kick off his set were getting a great reaction.
Lang's affinity for acoustic playing-and his ability to make an acoustic guitar sound like an electric one-led him in a rootsier direction. His blues-based audience grew to include other genres, and Jeff began appearing with a wide range of artists. He has opened for Rory Gallagher, Bob Geldof, Jeff Healy, Junior Wells, Edgar Winter, Sugar Ray and, more recently, Ani DiFranco and Dar Williams.
On Cedar Grove, it is clear why critics are raving. The "new Slide Guitar King of the World," as the Canadian trade Chart recently called him, is not one to test the waters. Instead, he's decided to jump right in, with an album that is chock full of the blistering licks, expert finger-picking and liquid slide that has rendered him Australia's hottest new export.
"A dab hand with an amped-up acoustic, slide, 12-string and lap steel, and weilding a husky voice that carries more than a hint of danger, Jeff Lang is the real blues deal."
Currently available from Wind River Records:
"First, write some damn fine, rootsy story-songs and confessionals that easily locate the home truth. Smother the rocky ones in greasy, funky, groove-ass, electric slide slop. Color the folky ones with some evocative, deeply soulful acoustic slide. Play 'em as if you're a male Bonnie Raitt -- with some serious balls and flawless chops -- but twice as speedy and energetic. Play that thang so it cuts like a pearl-handled straight razor: Fast, clean, shiny and sharp, but always in service of the song. Congratulations! You're Jeff Lang . . . the new Slide Guitar King Of The World."
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