CD Review: Tony Lang “Run With Me”

Back in the nineties and early 00s, singer-songwriter Tony Lang was a large part of the Cleveland music scene. In fact, for a while, it seemed like he was everywhere. Whether it was with his musical partner of Frank Camp in the band called The Simpletons who had a large following while they were together, or in The Tony Lang Band (the eponymous band that existed after The Simpletons had their day), Tony Lang had been a large part of the Adult Contemporary music scene in Cleveland for about a decade or so. The Simpletons and/or The Tony Lang Band were huge draws in the Cleveland music scene as either band opened for major label acts such as The Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, Joe Walsh, Rick Springfield, as well as Clevelanders Michael Stanley and Tracy Chapman.

That was several years ago. In the time that has passed, Lang has kept his hand in the music industry as he helped to establish the CampLang Studios. Along with his own work, Tony Lang has helped shape the music of many other artists over the years.

Years after that phase of Tony Lang’s life, the musician has returned. This time, Tony Lang is musically on his own as he entered the studio alone. With only a couple singers to help add dimension to his music, Lang alone has created an all-original album that features the many facets of the multi-talented musician. The brand new release that is now being promoted by Lang features sixteen original tracks. That new album from Tony Lang is entitled Run With Me.

Tony Lang’s Run With Me album begins with the album’s title track. With the track, Lang takes a mostly acoustic approach to the music. That acoustic feel with strictly acoustic guitars suggests a slightly different direction as far as Lang’s music is concerned. Whether alone or with Frank Camp, Lang’s music has always included that acoustic style but with an underlying electric feel to it. “Run With Me” is as close to Folk-Rock as Lang has come thus far. With the slightly different feel to his music on this track, Lang reintroduces fans of old to his sound while inviting new fans in.

While “Run With Me” feels somewhat familiar to fans of Lang’s older music, the same cannot be said for the next track on the album.

On the first single entitled “Paper Airplanes,” the feel of familiarity of the music disappears. This track introduces fans of old to a different Tony Lang. While there still exists a nineties influence to the track, there also exists something more that seems to flavor the music. The loop-like intro to the song adds a rather commercial quality to the track and invites the listener in. The song would easily fit on today’s Hot A/C radio formats just like the music of The Simpletons or The Tony Lang Band would have fit in with the songs of the mid-nineties, early 2000s. What “Paper Airplanes” ultimately reminds me of is the direction Lang’s former musical partner, Frank Camp had taken with his solo album back in 2000. It was still comfortably Adult A/C; it simply wasn’t The Simpletons. This is basically the case with “Paper Airplanes”. And whether new fan or old, “Paper Airplanes” is a track that deserves multiple listenings.

The track “Lost Your Groove” is probably the track that most easily brings to mind the musical style of The Simpletons. The track features the same style of music that fans of that band would find so familiar. In fact, “Lost Your Groove” would fit right into the band’s musical library. Not that the track would have fit on either of the band’s two releases. It would, however, would have felt very natural in the next recording session for the NEXT album, if there had been one.

With the track “Pictures of You,” Tony Lang has done what few can do: he created a track that feels timeless. There are elements in the song that scream eighties, nineties and today. There are elements of New Wave, Power Rock and even a little Alternative Rock in the music. The various eras in the same track create a song that has real drawing power to it as many different people will find something they like in the song.

For most of the release, Tony Lang exists by himself as he creates the entire track himself. But two songs find the singer-songwriter calling upon someone else to help add some feminine touches to the music. On the song “Wait for Me,” Lang calls upon fellow Clevelander Theresa Rose who has performed with the likes of internationally guitarist Neil Zaza. Together, Rose and Lang create a track that brings to mind the style that will remind some of the Sheryl Crowe/Kid Rock collaboration…minus the Country twang. “Wait for Me” would be a welcome addition to any Hot A/C playlist.

On the track “Me and You,” not only does Lang have a co-singer in Kim Jovanov, he also has a co-writer. And when the two writers get together, they create a track that stands out more than any other song on the release. The track would easily fit on radio formats in the eighties. That’s because the song created by Kim Jovanov and Tony Lang has more Rock and Roll feeling to it than anything Lang has put it out before. While not something most Lang fans are accustomed to, “Me and You” is a track that shows the versatility of the singer-songwriter.

Tony Lang’s Run With Me album comes with sixteen tracks. And with those sixteen tracks come many different styles of writing. But there is one track on the new release that sounds like old music from The Simpletons. That song is “Dancing Her Tears Away”. When you put the song on, it’s like you’ve stepped back into the late nineties, early 2000s. The track “Dancing Her Tears Away” feels as if Lang stepped into the studio with his old band to create a track for some never-released track that the world never got to hear when the group was still together. While the tracks that show how Tony Lang has been influenced since the last time The Simpletons were together, it’s nice to hear the old Lang come through on this track.

Anyone who is familiar with the past musical journey of Tony Lang will, no doubt, hear many different things on Run With Me that will immediately bring back the musician’s older music. Going back to the band’s 1996 four-song demo and the two albums that would follow, there was a definite style that Tony Lang and Frank Camp created. That style does come through within Run With Me, the new release from Tony Lang. However, that familiarity is only part of the picture as years have passed and Lang’s style has incorporated other influences. While still largely Hot A/C, the newer musical influences now found in Tony Lang’s music found on his solo release of Run With Me indicates that he, indeed, has something new to share with Greater Cleveland and hopefully, the world.

 

The Run With Me album from Tony Lang was just released. To get an idea of the music on the new album from the singer-songwriter, you can hear the track “Paper Airplanes”. Click HERE for the track.

For a bit of nostalgia, here the an older song from Tony Lang and The Tony Lang Band. Click HERE for the video the song “When We Were Young”. 

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