Langhorne Slim fans old and new will be delighted with his new release, Lost at Last Vol. 1. The Pennsylvania native, born Sean Scolnick, is, in many ways, the quintessential modern American folk artist. His songs are full of genuine lyrics, uncluttered arrangements, and cover a range of roots/Americana styles.
Slim’s paid his dues — he’s appeared on Late Show With David Letterman and Conan and has played numerous festivals, including Newport Folk, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. Lost at Last Vol. 1 marks his sixth studio album and includes tunes from three EPs released earlier this year, Never Break, Life Is Confusing, and Funny Feelin’.
The album opens with the string-laden “Life Is Confusing,” an understated take on a common theme. Lyrically, it sets the tone for the album: “Don’t think I see you anymore / At least not the way I saw you before / We’re caught up in traffic, the landscape changed / Life is confusing, and people are insane.”
“Old Things,” coming in at a whopping minute forty-six, follows. It’s a sweet, old-fashioned tune — a search for simplicity — the kind of feel-good song you’d expect to hear in a TV commercial intended to give you the warm fuzzies. (Listening, Volkswagen?) Slim sings, “Old cars don’t go too fast, old dogs lying on the grass / Old homes full of ghosts, ooh, I love old things the most.”
He goes even further on “Never Break,” with the scandalous suggestion “Let’s fall in love with our telephones off.”
Other highlights include the cheerful “Bluebird,” an inspiring fiddle-driven barn dance, and “Lost This Time,” with Slim at his most introspective: “I tried to be the man I know that I can be / But I still find the child hiding inside of me / We got lost this time / We just need some time to find ourselves again.”
“Funny Feelin’” is the kind of song that appeals right off the bat, as if written for the encore sing-along at a live show. In his album notes, Slim explains that he wrote the song after listening to blues legends Junior Kimbrough and Ted Hawkins on a long ride home to Pennsylvania. It’s got a familiar “boy pursues girl” theme: “Meet me down in the city, I’m gonna’ have some fun, and if I had someone to love me, then I’d have somebody to love.”
Behind a minichorus, “Zombie” is another enchanting album highlight. The video, with clever references to iconic horror movies and even Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” shows why. The message? Be careful who you fall for:
She had an old suitcase
Full of skulls
She kissed my lips
My blood ran cold
Couldn’t wait to give my soul but
She didn’t want it
Lost at Last Vol. 1 is a joyride; more than just a collection of great songs, it calls for the listener to continue moving forward. Slim enlightens in the album notes: “The title Lost at Last is a hopeful, even joyful one. The only rule is to keep movin’. Perhaps if one feels found, they have nothing left to find. I’d prefer to stay a bit lost and continue searching. The tragedy, I find, is that we close & shield our hearts because life is hard. The journey, I think is not only to remain open but to continually break through in order to become more vulnerable and sensitive, and in that, strong and mighty! I wanna’ shake off the conditioning: to live from the heart and not be ruled by a system of existing that keeps us fat and tired.”
Indeed, this album challenges listeners to seize life — not a bad idea at all!
Find Lost at Last Vol. 1 at Dualtone Records or your favorite record store.