DESPITE the album title, there’s nothing lost about these souls. Coming together for four days after Trump’s election, these artists have created sumptuous songs melding Americana, country, soul, blue grass and rock’n’roll into a sonic stew that’s as warm as the breeze around the legendary Muscle Shoals studio where these 13 tracks were recorded.
They have such a rich texture, you can hear the power and passion that exudes while they were laying them down.
With contributions from Langford himself, John Szymanski, Bethany Thomas, Tawny Newsome and Will McFarlane, as well as Swampers David Hood and Randy McCormick, this is an awesome array of talent to cherish.
The first single from the album, Fish Out of Water, is a masterly political commentary on the electoral events they’d just witnessed — “The Achilles heel of a dream that is unreal, every four years they come round looking for me, they say this tide makes all boats rise, well mine just won’t.”
Muscle Shoals personifies a place where the US’s melting pot transcends the murderous politics of hate that have continued to shame the country to this day and you sense that when Jon Langford sings: “there is no end to this, the wars of class and race.”
These songs — in a deft, nuanced progression — reflect his art, politics and constant travel, taking us to Chicago, via Newport and back on the 440 mile-Natchez Trace from Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee.
Langford’s lyrics have a wild, fragmentary imagery that sometimes circle opaquely around the songs but never elucidate them fully. You can interpret them as you want but you can’t forget or stop singing them.
Time, space and the sea provide memorable themes and, in what seems like a nod to the Carter Family, he weaves the tale of a man who gives everything away on I Thought He Was Dead.
That’s just one of the many highlights on a superb pilgrimage, recorded with wonderful talents and, vocally, Langford is doubly enhanced by the utterly beautiful voices of Thomas and Newsome.
Collectively, they’ve lovingly crafted an album brimming with politics, relationships, a sense of the injustice of this world — and hope.