Image courtesy of Julian Lage
Review by Andrew Javens
I am not sure what to call Julian Lage. I guess technically he is a jazz musician—and surely anyone who listens to his guitar playing will recognize his distinctly jazz chops. But I hesitate to label him when I hear something so clear that sets his music apart from jazz as we normally categorize it. You see, for his work Love Hurts, released February 22, 2019, Lage distills the complex harmonic language of jazz down to its essence to produce a beautiful yet gritty portrait of love. Choosing each rhythm, note, chord, dynamic, and articulation with subtle precision, Lage’s mastery shines through not as a display of mechanical skill but as a display of restraint. His music has a relatability that makes us feel like we understand our relationships and by extension ourselves as well. Love Hurts captures such a wide spectrum of emotion in a way that feels almost impossibly simple. With high highs, low lows, and a narrative that excites but never confuses, Lage captures perfectly the ambient truth of the Universe’s hum. And this I believe is the mark of a true master: making the complex simple.