Folk-based music has always been infatuated with the days of yore: Bob Dylan started his career indebted to Woody Guthrie; a more modern example is Pokey Lafarge, who often calls back to the early 1900s sound of Bill Monroe. So it's completely understandable that Langhorne Slim would reach for the dust bowl vibe on his latest LP, Lost at Last Vol. 1. But six albums in, the fact that the Pennsylvania singer-songwriter has failed to properly move forward in his own craft seems a bit troublesome.
An accomplished guitarist and banjo player with the gift of a golden voice, Slim possesses the raw talent to create something captivating with these 13 tracks. Instead, he seems content to recycle old ideas and sounds, resting almost solely on the novelty of his old-timey sound. Tracks like the rambling "Old Things," the hoedown-lite "Bluebird" and perhaps the most precious song about outlaw life, "Private Property," shoot for middle-of-the-road appreciation, sucking out any grit from the recording.
As with many of his LPs, Slim's strong songwriting shines through on a handful of tracks, including the quirky Motown-inspired "House of My Soul," the Junior Kimbrough-inspired blues number "Funny Feelin'" and the ideal lo-fi production sound of the Theremin-aided "Zombie." Those tracks demonstrate exactly what Slim can achieve when truly inspired. Optimists will view Lost at Last Vol. 1 as a transitional album, with hopes that volume two finds the songwriter taking more chances and kicking a little more ass. (Dualtone)