Langhorne Slim – Lost At Last Vol 1
Dualtone – 10 November 2017
Known to his folks as Sean Scolnik, Langhorne Slim’s a singer-songwriter from Langhorne Pennsylvania, though most of his life seems to be spent on the road. Even so, he’s still managed to find the time to record five previous albums, his latest setting out to, as the notes put it, “challenge the idea of social rigidity” and that there’s “more than one way to live a life” in a call to reconnect with ourselves and each other.
It’s a short, under 34 minutes, but sharp set with its philosophies neatly compacted into 13 tracks that rarely exceed the three-minute mark.
It declares its manifesto with the sprightly strings-coloured, fingerpicked opener, Life Is Confusing, the declared Cat Stevens influence clearly in evidence. If that’s the symptoms of the modern malaise, what follows offers some alternative therapies and lifestyle choices, including the encouragement to “fall in love with our telephones off” on the strings swirling Never Break and the observation of “What a gift it is just to be still” on the hoedown stomp Bluebird.
Seeking to head off the cynics, he declares that this isn’t “hippie shit”, rather it’s “ancient shit”, which, roughly translated, means getting back to basics in order to find who we are and not hiding behind drugs, sex or mobile phones. Which also means not getting banged up for “planting seeds on my private property” on the fingerpicked 60s folk styled Private Property where the narrator complains about having to go on the run from the DA for growing marijuana.
Co-penned with Kenny Siegal House Of My Soul (You Light The Rooms) is a goodtime Dixieland brass bouncer about opening yourself up to love while, romping along on accordion and what sounds like a euphonium, the reflection of old friendships on Ocean City has a Paul Simon air about it.
Then there’s some slow burn gospel soul with Alligator Girl and its bluesy guitar and piano with the acoustic fingerpicking blues Funny Feelin’ tipping the hat to Junior Kimbrough (who co-wrote) and Ted Hawkins. By contrast, with its theremin, the offbeat love song Zombie is a brief but glorious slice of cascading Spectorised pop with acid-laced added pedal steel.
It ends with the stripped-down title track, a simple folksy song of regret over pain caused and a relationship that got lost along the way, and, finally, Better Man, an uplifting organ-swelling, strings soaring piano ballad about self-improvement, reaching out and standing tall (“I know that life is short, know we can’t stay long, but one thing’s for sure I know that I’ll be strong”) that, in its vocal treatment, again recalls those echoey pop moments of the 60s. He says in his notes that getting lost is the cost of being free, Throw away the map and grab a copy.