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Langford's Four Lost Souls find themselves

Atwood's Tavern, Cambridge, Mass., October 24, 2017

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Jon Langford would not be able to plead guilty to déją vu all over again. Not when you have a resume that includes The Mekons, the Waco Brothers, The Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Three Johns and...well you get the idea. He loves pursuing a variety of different musical concepts.

Langford's latest configuration is Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls, but the name was a misnomer both on a very strong self-titled CD that came out in September as well as an invigorated outing in the small club.

For Langford, however, this was pretty much a homecoming. He pointed out early on that this was the third time this year he has played the club including a show with The Wacos.

No matter what the line-up, though, with Langford as part of the ensemble, it was all good.

This was an all-acoustic evening with Langford and John Szymanski on acoustic guitars. Tawny Newhouse and Bethany Thomas took care of vocals - both lead and backing harmonies.

As for the sound, it was a blend of country, soul, a touch of doo wop here and there and rock. Recording the disc in Muscle Shoals, Ala. with Norbert Putnam at the helm may have had something to do with the musical amalgam.

The quartet embraced all of them with the emphasis, of course, being on the recent CD, and there's a lot of good material there from the poppy, fast-paced "Half Way Home" (Langford joked that he wanted to write a song with lyrics repeating. "Half Way Home," which sounds like something Nick Lowe could have cut, did that) to Southern located songs ("Natchez Trace" and "In Oxford Mississippi") to what they described as secular gospel "I Thought He Was Dead").

While Langford was the ostensible leader, this was far from Langford and three sidekicks. Newhouse (her main gigs are as an actress and comedienne), in particular, has a gorgeous, beautiful voice whether on backing vocals with Thomas or taking lead. Szymanski offered backing vocal harmonies, but more importantly nice runs on his acoustic. During the encore, which was less musically interesting than the regular set, The Kinks expert took lead vocals on "Sunny Afternoon" with the crowd gleefully participating.

Langford always seems up for doing something a little different musically. His latest incarnation in one sense was déją vu all over again because this band clicked. If these four souls were ever lost, they certainly have found themselves.

Long-time Boston musician Chris Brokaw opened with a set that grew more diverse as he went along. Brokaw's guitar playing stood out in setting the mood. He also was aided by one-time band mate Thalia Zedek on a few tunes.