Jennifer Lang
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Jennifer Lang

New York, New York, United States

New York, New York, United States
R&B Adult Contemporary

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Jennifer Lang
3 O’ Clock Saturday
JLynne Records

Wow, Jenny Lang is one fine singer! Her new CD, 3 O’ Clock Saturday, would sound good on a weekend afternoon, or just about any old time.
Much of this release has an upbeat, modern day rhythm and blues feel to it. But Lang truly shines brightest on “I Don’t Understand”, which is a bit of a slow blues tune. Over a sparse groove, which brings to mind those great Philly soul sounds of the ‘70s, Lang takes her time contemplating why a man had the nerve to cheat on her. Lang doesn’t ever have to let loose, vocally. Instead, she uses her flexible voice to work out her trials and tribulations in song, with great care.
Lang is equally adept at expressing her gospel roots as she is in contemplating the sins of her mate, however. This disc closes with “I Don’t Know When It’s Coming”, where Lang incorporates spoken word scripture quotes into a track that speaks of her confidence that God’s blessings are on their way. Although the subject matter is entirely different than “I Don’t Understand”, “I Don’t Know When It’s Coming” nevertheless utilizes a similar vocal approach. So many times in gospel music, singers vocalize so strenuously, the listener starts to be afraid they’ll pull a muscle or something while performing. But Lang is so confident enough in her innate musicality that she doesn’t need to push herself to get people to notice. It’s a little like watching a basketball player going through extremely difficult gymnastic moves to make a shot, when all they really need to do is simply lay it in. Lang is like the latter instance, as she always makes it look easy. But this is not to say Lang is not a skilled singer; she is a natural beauty, vocally, and she’s learned well how to showcase her instrument. She paces herself, instead of sprinting to the point of being out of breath.
There are moments during this 14-song disc where Lang brings to mind Sade’s Quiet Storm soul vibe. But sometimes Sade can come off a little too-cool-for-school, to the extent of making the listener apathetic after a short while. Yet Lang is both smooth and warm at the same time. Something like “Fairy Tales”, which – if not handled correctly – could have come off a little too cute. In Lang’s hands, however, the mystery of love, which can oftentimes be fairy tale-like – comes through loud and clear.
With 3 O’ Clock Saturday, Jennifer Lang has created a batch of fine listening music. And there’s a clear distinction, by the way, between ‘listening’ music and ‘dance’ music. A lot of R&B music sounds great in a club or booming from a car stereo. But if you attempt to enjoy such sounds in a stationary position, you may become a little restless. In contrast, Lang’s sounds have a calming affect. They make you want to sit back, relax, and take it all in.
Jennifer Lang’s picture on the cover of this CD is sweet and inviting. One look and you will say to yourself, ‘That looks like a nice girl.’ The same thing happens when listening to the music contained within. You’re not just listening to some unknowable singer. Instead, it’s like you’re sitting and letting a good friend sing to you. Without a doubt, 3 O’ Clock Saturday is an appointment you definitely need to keep.
-- Dan MacIntosh

- Dan MacIntosh


Music flows through Jennifer Lang’s veins. Whether it was from her family’s aptly named band “The Lang Family” or growing up singing in a church choir, from a very early age Jennifer’s life has been surrounded and shaped by music. She lives it. She breathes it. She channels it. Is it any wonder what career path that the fates led her down?

Jennifer Lang’s album 3 O'clock Saturday is sultry journey into chilltastic realms. Jennifer’s voice is smooth, soulful and above all else extraordinary! At times her voice puts me in mind of Jennifer Hudson. It’s the kind of voice that’s capable of belting out rafter shaking ballads or sweet melodies whispered to the ear.

Jennifer’s style is absolutely rooted in R&B, but with that said a few tracks off of 3 O'clock Saturday have a bit of a new age meets trip-hop vibe about them. These tracks, “Fairy Tales” and “Hey Love” set her apart from all the rest. These are tracks that Jennifer truly hits her stride. This isn’t to say that her soulful R&B tracks are weak–far from it. Tracks like “Keep Your Head Up” and “Betcha Thought” more than prove that she could go toe-to-toe with such artists as Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and Angie Stone. It’s just that I’ve listened to quite a few chill, trip-hop, downtempo and electronica tracks and I can’t help but wonder what an album Jennifer released of any of these genres would sound like. Wishful thinking? Perhaps…

I suppose if I were to knit-pick, I’d have to say that some of the music (not vocals) seems a bit patchwork. That is to say that in some songs it comes off as a bit over the top or just doesn’t seem to quite sound right. I may be wrong, and it would hardly be the first time, but the music sounds a bit computer generated. I have nothing against computer-generated music when done well, but on some tracks it seems to come off as sounding a little cheap. Tracks like “Ya Keep Sayin’” should have more of an organic feel. I picture this song stripped down to just a drum, bass guitar and that’s it. It should have more of a bluesy atmospheric vibe about it.

The intro track I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand it shows off personality–which I give major props for. On the other hand it sounds a bit hokey. That’s a trap that every intro track of this type falls into, so I can’t really hold that against the album. Put the intro in the plus column!

Jennifer Lang is an amazingly talented singer whose voice will carry her far in the music industry. While her album 3 O'clock Saturday seems to have not reached its full potential, it is an album worth checking out.
- Zack Daggy


Jennifer Lang's second album, 3 O'Clock Saturday reveals itself to have two stars; Jennifer Lang with her full voice and sincere songwriting, and producer/multi-instrumentalist Cloyd R. Willis Jr. Together, they've created a solid R&B album with uplifting spirituals, danceable numbers, and soulful ballads.

Review:
The liner notes to Jennifer Lang's 2009 album, 3 O'Clock Saturday are peppered with thanks to God, tongue-in-cheek, crediting to herself and thanks to Cloyd R. Willis Jr. From this, it's a bit tough to anticipate what's going to play once the disc starts spinning. About one minute into the opening, "Jenny's Groove", everything becomes clear, Jennifer Lang is going to deliver a soulful collection of R&B tracks with passion.

Lang's spiritual influences are rooted deep into her youth as she grew up singing in church and eventually began listening to the music of Aretha Franklin and Al Green. Fittingly enough, Lang's voice is well described as an amalgamation of those two. Though she doesn't display the range of Aretha (but who does?) she takes a bit of her power and combines it with the smoothness of Green. Lang's songwriting plays well with her voice as much of the subject matter is fairly by the books. There's a good deal of female empowerment and triumph over love and life's pratfalls, ("Don't Think On It", and "Betcha Thought") betrayal, ("You Said", "I Don't Understand) and hopeful numbers that round out the album's sixty-minute running length ("Keep Your Head Up", "I Don't Know When It's Coming").

The songwriting is well done but on its own, seldom exceptional. More than anything, it's sincere. Lang's voice however is compelling whether its standing on its own, or superbly overdubbed like on "Falling In Love." When she sings her self-penned lyrics, it lifts the songs to a level they wouldn't otherwise reach. Her passion for her music is very much evident and it shines through on every song.

Though Lang's name is the one on the cover, the album's "secret weapon" of sorts is the aforementioned Cloyd R. Willis Jr. Willis is responsible for not only the production, but every instrument on the recording, including (but not limited to) Fender P-Bass, strings, vibes, flute, percussion, oboe, electric piano, soprano sax, organ, and french horn. The consistent stand-out is his bass playing. There's not a song on here that doesn't feature a tight bass groove. The drum programming though often leaves much to desire. As is typical with much modern R&B, it's very mechanical and static. Given the dynamics of the rest of the music, real drums would've been a welcome addition to the mix.

Some of the album's finest moments are when Lang deviates from the formulaic R&B to deliver performances that feature the influences of other genres. "Ya Keep Sayin" is almost a throwback to slow jazz. It's easy to imagine this song being played in the confines of a smoky bar in a film noir. The album's closer, "I Don't Know When It's Coming" is the most gospel influenced of the fourteen songs; a surprising oddity in how much Lang's faith is displayed in the liner notes. Regardless, the placement of this song is impeccable; ending on a strong gospel note of hope and faith is a welcome turn-around from some of the darker images presented on earlier songs. Some more of this material would've made for a stronger album overall, but doesn't really detract from it being a solid R&B album.

3 O'Clock Saturday will be very well received by R&B fans. Lang's voice is a great instrument, effectively produced by Willis throughout. What the album lacks in amazing songwriting it makes up for in a fantastic amount of sincerity and emotion. Safe to say, Lang has avoided the "sophomore slump" that artists can encounter and has turned out an album that she can be proud to thank God for helping her and Willis create.


- Heath Andrews


Before this album is even popped into the CD player, one can tell there is something special about Arkansas sweetheart Jennifer Lang. Her bright eyes and smiling face exude pure joy and happiness, qualities not seen that often anymore on the album covers of current female R&B songstresses. Additionally, her liner notes are playfully amusing. All fourteen tracks on 3 O’Clock Saturday were written by Lang and Cloyd R. Willis Jr. Willis plays all the instruments and Lang is the lyricist/vocalist or in some cases, such as “Hi” she embellishes upon this title and credits herself with “Insightful lyrics, playful delivery and sweet phrasing.”

This delightful, unassuming personality Lang embodies carries throughout the album – with the added bonus that she is indeed a formidable singer. 3 O’Clock Saturday is her sophomore album and it seems that Lang is contentedly finding her niche. She is at her best when singing in a lower register and maintains exquisite vocal control through ornamental twists and turns. However, when this New York City transplant attempts to get too jazzy or rhythmically clever, the result is not always as pleasing. Lang both benefits and falters with her orchestration choices.

“Fairy Tales” is well-written with tasteful mordents and smooth jazz delivery. The dramatic chord progression with a cool R&B backbeat slowly climbs in pitch as the song progresses. While the choice of instrumentation aided in the melodic interpretation of this modern fairy tale, in the more chic “Ya Keep Saying” Lang’s voice is left overly exposed. This is unfortunate given the edgy, driven mode of the song. The bass is too weak and there are annoying Atari-like synthesized blips that do nothing to support the vocals. Similar issues occur in “I Don’t Understand” where Lang’s voice thins out as she sings in the upper register and the instrumentation fails to support her leaving the track way too trebly. The synthesizers do a better job in this song with attention grabbing strings and low brass, giving a spy-thriller type feeling to Lang’s formidable vocals. But, despite her graceful pitch control in the coda the song ends abruptly.

“Gangsta Jennie” (per liner notes) continues to shine in “You Said” where she is fully-accompanied with a well-blended wall of sound with a nice touch of sleigh bells. However, this track also ends abruptly. It would be nice if more of these songs employed smoother fade-outs as in “Don’t Think On It.”

Lang seems to comfortably groove best in slow to medium tempos with more traditional R&B beats. When she tries to sing along with synthesized brass in “Betcha Thought” or deliberately sing overemphasized triplets in “I Don’t Know When It’s Coming” it detracts from her true core of talent as both a singer and lyricist. Lang has tremendous room to blossom and grow as she continues to do what she loves. The more she dabbles with different approaches to songwriting, the further along she will travel on her musical journey to find her unique niche where her talent will be truly and beautifully showcased.


- Kelly O’Neil


: A fantastic R & B CD by a woman with a voice of an angel. Jennifer Lang is definitely a rising star in her genre. Move over Mariah! Move Over Toni, Jennifer is here and she’s going to say!

When I first held Jennifer Lang’s 3 O’Clock Saturday in my hands I was taken aback by the cover. What a beautiful smile Jennifer has. I assumed that this CD was going to go the route of the usual R & B CD, but I could not have been so wrong and I was so glad of that. This is one fantastic R & B CD!

Pop 3 O’Clock Saturday into the nearest CD player and be prepared to be wowed by Jennifer Lang’s voice. To describe her voice probably wouldn’t be doing it proper justice, but her sound is like a finely aged wine about to be uncorked and shared with a few friends, something to be enjoyed and savored.

3 O’Clock Saturday is Jennifer’s second album a follow up to her 2008 debut Just A Lang Thang. Her songs are centered around a love theme, and stem from Lang’s desire for people to know how important love really is. She does it beautifully with the new album. Her voice conveys sensuality, romance and the heartache of a breakup, which is something that we haven’t seen since Toni Braxton hit the scene. Yes, her voice is that big!

The songs are soulful, sometimes dealing with loss (Keep Your Head Up and Don’t Thing On It), new love (Take Me There), and even more spiritual things (I Don‘t Know When It‘s Coming), but no matter what the song, Jennifer keeps most of the tracks upbeat and a little bit funky. That’s what sets this album apart from the rest. It is a perfect mixture of up and down beats. It’s not all funky with one token ballad tossed in for good measure. The tracks have a good flow and nothing seems out of place or unexpected.

If asked to pick a favorite, I’d be hard pressed to select just one. Falling In Love is such a bittersweet tune. Betcha Thought puts the funk back into funky. If you have a groove thang to shake, you’ll be shaking it to this song. Fairy Tales is delivered in such a way that the song delivers a one two punch to the listener. There’s just something about the vocal and haunting Middle Eastern sounding melody that gives this song that something special. Perhaps it’s because it really lets you see what a wonderful range Jennifer has. She hits the low note with precision and then soars into the clouds with the next.

There are plenty of R & B singers out there to choose from, but not many of them have a voice like Jennifer Lang and even fewer have an album as powerful as 3 O’clock Saturday. Jennifer is a fresh face on the music scene but that doesn’t mean she should be ignored, with her latest album, she shows the world that she’s hear and she’s ready to take it on.

So get your hands on a copy of it, let her fantastic smile warm your heart while her music warms your soul. Listen to this over and over again and appreciate the vocal talent of a lady whose star is most certainly on the rise.


- Andrea Guy


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Soulful…Heartfelt… Sultry… Thought provoking… Meaningful
The Musical Heart of Jennifer Lang

“What excites me most about music,” New York-based singer/songwriter Jennifer Lang says, is simple: “The sound… music is in the ocean. It’s in your heart beat. It’s in your spirit. Even a guy who can’t carry a tune in a bucket is moved by music.”

Raised in church singing with an appropriately titled family act “The Lang Family,” Jennifer’s introduction to music and public performing started at eight years old. She was also a member of her church choir and sang in the school choir through high school. Jennifer’s secular music education blossomed when Jennifer and her brother pulled out their mother’s records and listened to the greats of the day including Aretha Franklin and Al Green along with hundreds of others. Country music was also an early love of Jennifer’s as they absorbed tunes by Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Rogers, mixed with Luther Vandross and Prince on the car stereo while driving to school in the morning.

For someone so steeped in music that it touches her very soul, you would think music is the reason Jennifer moved all the way from Pine Bluff, Arkansas to The Big Apple in an effort to pursue her musical dreams. She was actually already living there, having been hired by a political action group to organize lower income neighborhoods to help them get better city services. While in training, Jennifer was hired by the telephone company. And like the old phone company slogan goes, Jennifer “reached out and touched someone” with her singing voice at work.

“I love everything from Bach to Rock, and knew all the songs playing while we were at work,” Jennifer says of her roundabout entry into a music career. “People around me heard me singing and encouraged me to pursue singing professionally.”

Jennifer knew that if there was ever a time and a place for her to “go for it,” it was in New York City. She prayed about it “and asked God to lead me and protect me and keep me in good company, because although I didn’t know everything about the music business, I did realize that there were stories of bad things happening to sweet little girls like me. I educated myself, I read books, talked to attorneys, attended seminars and then started recording.”

On Just A Lang Thang, her debut album released in 2008, Jennifer sings a beautiful mix of Soul and R&B songs of love and loss, hope and recovery, or as she puts it, “I want people to know how important love is… the idea of love you had as a child.”

With the completion on her follow-up album, "3'o clock Saturday", Jennifer continues the love theme with soulful tales of failing, forgiveness and being happy at the end of it all.

“Music is my friend, my escape,” Jennifer explains. “In my songs, I want to be that voice that says, ‘You’re worth more, be better, dream bigger.’”