Everyone has the same reaction when they hear about Julian Lage, “No. Fuck off. That’s not real. Oh, come on! That’s not fair! How is this even? … what about? … you know what? Fuck it. Fuck this! Fuck everything! But, most of all, fuck that fucking guy!” And everyone is right to react this way and here’s why:
Lage was a child prodigy. There’s a documentary on him called “Jules at Eight”. So, what makes him so special? He plays guitar. Not that interesting? Wrong. At 13, he played the Grammy Awards. At 15, yes … 15 fucking years old, he became a faculty member at Stanford Jazz Workshop. From there he went to study at San Francisco Conservatory Sonoma State, Ali Akbar College of Music, and Berklee. Now he’s 30 years old and he doesn’t ride the coat tails of his child fame. Not even close. He put every bit of natural talent he had and worked it to death. Born with this unnatural talent, he also developed this work ethic so his talent wouldn’t fade. Is Julian Lage better than you at guitar? That’s not even a question. Of course he is. You will never be a better guitarist than Julian Lage. The real thing that makes people react is that he’s also not a bad looking guy. He’s charismatic and personable, he’s not antisocial or narcissistic. So, in the end, is Julian Lage just a better human than the most of us? Maybe. What might help you sleep later is to think that this guy is just a freak occurrence. A once in a lifetime type of thing. Problem with that logic is Chris Eldridge, the other guitarist on this album, is basically in the exact same ballpark. So ya, fuck this.
Do the guitars sound good on this album? Fuck off, just … fuck off. Okay? Okay!?
These reasons are not why this album is up here. There are tons of technically great players that I couldn’t give a flying fuck about. Someone will one day build a robot that plays the entirety of Chopin in 8 seconds. Sure, it will be great mechanically but, so fucking what? It’ll still sound like garbage and won’t inspire anyone but Sarah Connor to do something more with their lives.
The reason I put this album on here is cause I fucking love this genre breaking shit. It’s not jazz, it’s not classical, it’s not bluegrass. “Who needs labels anyway?” you might try to argue while taking a hoot from a 4-foot bong. My answer to this? Everyone dude. Just try to ask someone for a fucking banana without using “labels”. You want a long yellow what? Where? It’s how we communicate. The barriers separating styles of music and ways to play are breaking. Bluegrass players are strumming Bach. Classical musicians are singing folk. What connects them? Technique. They are all crazy technically advanced music. How cool it is that a fiddle player can now interpret Tchaikovsky?
This is a solid album. I find that it is actually played a bit robotically. If you’re a guitar geek, you’ll cream yourself instantly. Outside of that it’s beautiful, but I still prefer more freedom with tempo and whatnot when I hear a folk song. It’s one of my favourite albums of 2017, which seems to be a thing that I’m doing on this album a day thing so far (speckled with whatever shit I wanted to hear for that day). Plus, these guys have made 3 albums together and they aren’t stopping anytime soon, so there’s more to hear if you like. It’s just a great listen and mood to have sometimes. It’s just kinda fucking inspiring.