“It’s important that those of us who are creative to do what we love. There is a need, sometimes filled with alcohol and drugs. You’ve got to pursue your desire,” Langhorne Slim told me over dinner recently. The rocking troubadour of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, manifests this credo with his new album, Lost at Last Vol. 1. “Lost” references being “lost” in your own creativity, making yourself new each day. Langhorne does it through music. He exudes it from his bones, outbursts of love. He aimed for an album “based in love,” urging listeners to find “strength in our own instincts” and escape from expected behavior. This album, from deep in that “lost” space, is perhaps his greatest, an act of Langhorne Slim genius.
Lost at Last Vol. 1 shifts between rocking and pensive, with songs that have gained in texture and wisdom. The rock rolls, regular as the ragged edges of beautiful melodies. The tunes were done “live and hitting ‘record,’” Slim’s intention to keep things direct. And yet, there are orchestral moments with a velvety smoothness.
He proposes being the best you can in “Better Man.” “I know that life is short,/can’t stay long./One thing I know for sure is/I’ll be strong.” A thinking person with ideas percolating, Slim’s a musical “fidget spinner” of song diversity, as he follows “Better Man” with the hoppy, happy reminiscence of summer time in “Ocean City (For May, Jack, & Brother Jon).” It’s a song filled with narrative detail, like his grandmother’s cigarettes, poetry in his lyrics, and wonderful melody and boardwalk-evoking instrumentation, with circus oompahs and accordion-like chops.
One of the most powerful and lovely tunes is “Never Break,” with lyrics like, “Love is the key/under the stars./I lit a flame/to dance in the dark./You can break my bones./You can break my heart./But, you’ll never break me.” Fiddle and female harmony are a graceful duo of sounds in “Life is Confusing.” The sound curls like smoke in “Old Things,” and Langhorne goes early-Beatles in his cartoonish tune about an ex-girlfriend, “Zombie,” a girl who “drank red wine in the pouring rain” and “read big books about the human brain.”
Langhorne tells stories and sings and plays as if he were electric, with a resonant sound surprising from one voice and guitar. Lost at Last Vol. 1 bolsters his profile as a songwriter while underscoring his grace and ferocity as a singer and player.