Modern Lore finds Julian Lage playfully flipping the script he followed on his acclaimed 2016 Mack Avenue debut, Arclight. That album – produced, like Modern Lore, by Lage's friend and collaborator, the singer-songwriter Jesse Harris – was his first trio set on electric guitar and found Lage inspired by the sounds and the attitude of the freewheeling, pre-bebop jazz era, when, as he puts it, "country music and jazz and swing were in this weird wild-west period." This time he incorporates the sensibility, if not the outright sound, of early rock and roll, a similarly hybrid form driven by rhythm, personality and a passion for the electric guitar.
Opening with the exuberant "The Ramble," Lage's set of all-original new material is largely up-tempo, though on tracks like "Atlantic Limited" and "Splendor Riot" the trio adopts a hypnotic, lyrical stride. And, on "Revelry" and "Pantheon," it grows more pensive. Throughout, the beat is concise and steady. Lage's solos are action-packed musical monologues, stuffed with brilliant melodies and off-the-cuff inspiration. The penultimate track, "Earth Science," is an outright scorcher.
As one of the most prodigious guitarists of his generation, Julian Lage has long displayed an ability to explore a wide range of sounds, ideas and genres. But what delights him here – and will, in turn, captivate his listeners – is the artful simplicity of Modern Lore.