Julian Lage
Speak To Me


4.5
superb

Review

by Mike Kaplan STAFF
April 5th, 2024 | 18 replies


Release Date: 03/01/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Can you hear it?

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I find the title of Julian Lage’s latest work—Speak to Me—to have a much deeper meaning than Lage himself probably even intended. Lage has created an album that—while it isn’t maybe as deep or profound as other albums in the genre—celebrates the beauty of music, both personally and a form of artistic expression. Along the one hour run, Lage incorporates and explores a variety of different musical textures into his very firmly jazz foundations, creating a very personal experience that does not rely on virtuosity to create an effect, and instead conveys an understanding that that music is not just pretty sounds—it is a means of both evoking and speaking our thoughts, emotions and attitudes in ways that simply cannot be expressed in words. To put it simply: Speak to Me is a vibrantly colorful panorama of mood and melody that captures not only the joy of making music, but also of sharing it.

Probably the most captivating aspect of Speak to Me is the amount of fun that Lage and his band seem to be having. Lage doesn’t need to prove that he’s a virtuoso (the man had a documentary made about him at the age of eight), and the interplay between him and the rest of his band is both tasteful and noticeable. The more blues-oriented tracks such as “Northern Shuffle,” “Serenade,” and “South Mountain” are balanced efforts that exhibit both individual excellence and tight communication between the musicians involved. The bright textures and colorful melodies exude a playful tone that brings the album to life.

Lage himself (especially on classical or acoustic guitars) remains nothing short of a master when it is his time to shine. While each track tries to embody a certain mood in its composition, it is most evident when Lage is given space to do what he does best. As an example, in “Me Around You,” Lage’s guitar flutters like a young lover’s heart, expertly painting a picture of the joy one feels around another for which one is deeply affectionate. As the song progresses, Lage relaxes into a more settled, yet still beautiful melody—depicting the movement of love’s journey into a firmly rooted stability of union.

Another point of note in this album is that none of the compositions exceed six or seven minutes in length. The concise nature of the songwriting helps keep the album from losing steam, especially due to the shifts in tempo and style that the album goes through. I didn’t lose interest throughout Speak to Me’s runtime, and a lot of that had to do with looking forward to what surprise Lage would pull out of his hat next.

Maybe this album isn’t as profound or deeply original as other jazz albums, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful or enjoyable to listen to. In fact, give it a shot—wait for a sunny day, sit outside on your balcony or porch or wherever and give it a spin. I can assure you that you’ll find something to enjoy.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Manatea
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Tried to load the album art but Sputnik freaked out on me. Please help.



Also fantastic album.

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2024


5480 Comments


I CAN HEAR IT BUT I CAN'T SEE IT

lovely rev, love that you're covering some jazz (one lil italics issue in the opening sentence)

HelloJoe
April 5th 2024


1097 Comments


Really like this album, too.

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lol someone pls help me with this album art.



Also nice to see you both. Rev fixed :]

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2024


18868 Comments


God I love when musicians actually sound like they want to be playing music

HelloJoe
April 5th 2024


1097 Comments


@Manatea Hi!

There were some cool jazz albums in March. I'm only a new fan of Lage after his collab with Bill Frisell on View with A Room.



Manatea
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Joe I haven’t heard View with a Room but I’ll check it soon

@YoYo indeed

Koris
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2024


21170 Comments


Great review man! We definitely need more jazz writeups on the site

WompState
April 7th 2024


43 Comments


loved this album. of his Blue Note stuff, which is shaping up to be a classic run, Squint is the technical extravaganza, View With A Room is all about the atmospherics and chord voicings, and this one is really about the songs themselves. truly feels like a group effort where everybody is playing together to serve the song at all times. the compositions are tight, and it's something you could put on as background music, but it's in no way a "sellout" album.

very pure stuff. is anybody holding the flag higher for jazz than Julian in 2024? he's literally treading new ground, bringing new sounds to the forefront, and even innovating on the gear level with his unorthodox guitar choices.

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@koris thanks mate!!



It’s true this site does suffer from a lack of jazz, but I’m on a personal mission to correct that…

Veldin
April 7th 2024


5273 Comments


I’m familiar with Lage via his work with John Zorn and I absolutely love his guitar work. I’ll give this a listen. Great review!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2024


60522 Comments


Oh damn, this is the guy from the New Masada Quartet? Was meaning to peep anyway, but will get on this soon

Nice review lfg

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2024


3033 Comments


Good review/great coverage. I stumbled across a track from this and it blew my mind, looking forward to hearing the rest

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@johnny yeah he’s on guitar in New Masada. And thank you!

@milo < 333 yeah it’s an amazing album

bloc
April 8th 2024


70186 Comments


One of my all time favourite guitarists

WompState
April 10th 2024


43 Comments


i had a chance to play one of his Collings signatures and it was a super cool instrument. has a V neck profile, almost acoustic feel. very different. feels like he really designed that guitar for Room With A View specifically, with the Bigsby and very warm pickups. i don't think i'd pay 7k for one but it immediately evoked the tone from that album.

bloc
April 10th 2024


70186 Comments


It does look sweet, not surprised at the price tag

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 10th 2024


60522 Comments


This has proper throw-on-whenever-mileage lfg



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