Jon Langford

Gold Brick (Reach Out International)

SXSW Records

Jon Langford

Gold Brick (Reach Out International)

Jon Langford is as busy as an octopus at a handshaking festival. Founding Mekon, Pine Valley Cosmonaut, and Waco Brother, the Welshman is an established solo act as well, soon to publish Nashville Radio, a collection of bold writings and paintings, some making an appearance at Austin's Yard Dog gallery. Throughout, Langford does one thing best: shine a hot, white light on the American Dream. More cohesive than his earlier solo work, Gold Brick benefits from Langford employing some of the best Windy City musicians. The piano, violin, mandolin, and bass help the country-singer-trapped-in-a-punk-rocker's-body paint broad, political, and poetic brushstrokes. Themes hit like Langford's 1998 solo debut, Skull Orchard: helpless victims of crass commercialism, music as fly-by-night commodity, and soul-sucking industrial jobs. Oh, and the American Empire gone terribly wrong, highlighted by album subtitles "Lies of the Great Explorers" and "Columbus at Guantanamo Bay." Short and softly-strummed, "Buy It Now" is a carpe diem country tune, while epic closer "Lost in America" is its own mini album. The high point is a finely orchestrated rendering of Procol Harum's criminally underrated "Salty Dog," song title and possible new tag for this hard-working firebrand. (Saturday, March 18, 10pm @ Opal Divine's)

**.5

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