Kid Jonny Lang & the Big Bang

Smokin'

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Smokin' is a good electric blues album, but it's hard to divorce an assessment of it from the knowledge that singer/guitarist Jonny Lang was a mere 14 years old when he recorded it. Would one consider it such an achievement if the bandleader were twice that age? Probably not. Without Lang's precocity as a draw, the album is a competent work in a hidebound form. The guitar playing is fluid and professional in a style reminiscent of many other players, notably B.B. King. The singing is fine, but unremarkable. The backup band maintains a groove and gives Lang something to play off of. If you saw a band playing like this in a local club, you'd have a good time. And if you could tell that the guitar player was underage, you'd be far more impressed. But then, that's the point, isn't it? ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

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