Photo Credit: Nathan West
Julian Lage is a jazz guitarist that works his rock and blues roots into music in extremely masterful ways. Lage’s new album, Love Hurts, is no exception to his skill and mastery. While this album is instrumental jazz, it is extremely palatable to all listeners who enjoy music. Compared to his other albums, this offering is a more serious and less cheerful addition to Lage’s large library of music.
Most of this album consists of covers (8/10 tracks to be exact) but somehow Lage makes every one sound like his own whether it be with timbre, feel or harmonically. Actually, the title track, “Love Hurts” is in-fact a cover as well. The tune is a somber take on the 1962 original version of the song by Roy Orbison. Some listeners might recognize the melody of the song from the original after multiple listens. Julian Lage’s version has a chorus-long solo section and has a sound aesthetic that fits in with all of his other songs and albums in his catalog. This track is one of the best on the album.
“Tomorrow Is The Question” is a great cover of the original tune by Ornette Coleman. Originally, this melody was written for a tenor sax and a trumpet in harmony but even in this trio setting there is nothing missed from the original. Lage’s version has some incredible soloing and a beautiful rendition of the melody. The drummer and bassist are able to help Lage emulate the vibe of the original while also adding their own spin on it. Incredible.
A fan favorite track on the album is Lage’s take on “The Windup” by Keith Jarrett. This mixed-meter tune is a very enjoyable listen both from the original and Lage’s cover as the melody has a natural forward-pushing tendency that is quite euphoric. Lage’s take has a very creative improvisational section with a chorus of free soloing that is extremely musical. The resurgence of this song to a new listening audience is great for the genre as a whole because more modern artists don’t often cover the original classic.
The album as a whole has some incredible communication between the trio during melodies and solo sections. The musical conversations that take place throughout this album are extremely enjoyable to listen to and break down. Listening to this album is just like listening to a live jazz trio perform and enjoying every minute of it. However, one piece of criticism is to try to give the bassist and drummer some solo time in the future. While it is Lage’s album and he is an incredible musician, varying the solos would be another way to diversify the listener’s palette. Other than this, the album is extremely solid and highly recommended to anyone who wants to listen to incredible music!