With Jon Langford, the only certainty is that there will be surprises that make it party time.
By Milo Miles
Perhaps only Jon Langford could make becoming more tidy and professional seem like a rebellious act, but that’s what he’s pulled off with his new project, Four Lost Souls. Hearing that the 13 tracks were recorded in only four days, I worried that they might be a bit rough-and-tumble. But the expertise of the other Lost Souls – singers Bethany Thomas and Tawny Newsome as well as guitarist John Szymanski – joined by a fine passel of Muscle Shoals studio vets, ensure every track is graceful and well-rounded. Langford wrote the songs, but sings less than usual, which adds to the dulcet atmosphere.
Supposedly the album explores the manners and mores, the enigmas and injustices and racial issues of the American South, along with a cowboy and a skeleton riding on a horse and an undead singer doing “Storm on the Ocean” – “in his own way.” That is the only way Langford knows how to do it, and so the Lost Souls Atwood’s performance may be far removed from the decorum of the recorded tunes. With Jon Langford, the only certainty is that there will be surprises that make it party time.
Milo Miles has reviewed world-music and American-roots music for “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” since 1989. He is a former music editor of The Boston Phoenix. Milo is a contributing writer for Rolling Stone magazine, and he also written about music for The Village Voice and The New York Times. His blog about pop culture and more is Miles To Go.