Oct. 11 was Jon Langford’s 60th birthday, and it was also the date of a release party at the Hideout for his latest record. Of course, this prolific Chicago musician who never seems to stop creating would spend his birthday on a stage.
His latest project is a great one: The album is called Four Lost Souls, which is also the name of the group he assembled for some recording sessions in the fabled area around Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In addition to Langford, the Four Lost Souls include vocalists Tawny Newsome and Bethany Thomas and guitarist-singer John Szymanski.
As the Chicago Reader noted in a feature story, Langford ditched his usual process of writing songs on guitar, opting to create them on piano instead. He did sit down at the Hideout’s piano during another recent gig (with the Freakons), but despite the piano origins of his Four Lost Souls tunes, he played them all on guitar. They’re recognizable as the sturdy sort of rock and country songs Langford is known for, but his collaborators add different flavors to the sound. It’s great to hear Newsome and Thomas singing, whether it’s adding the heft of their harmonies or stepping to the forefront with occasional lead vocals. That’s true of the record, and the strength of that singing was loud and clear during the Hideout show.
Ever since Langford moved from Britain to Chicago, this Welsh punk rocker has championed American roots music in its many forms. With this project, he carries on that tradition, sounding as devoted as he ever has to making great music and having a good time while he does it. Happy 60th, Mr. Langford.
(Here’s a lovely Instagram photo by misterjayem of Langford with his birthday cake in the bar following his band’s performance.)