All the Fame of Lofty Deeds

Jon Langford

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All the Fame of Lofty Deeds Review

by Gregory McIntosh

Jon Langford's second official solo outing, All the Fame of Lofty Deeds, is a slapdash affair -- a fun, authoritative, and confident set of music by an underground watchdog professing a love for country music, rock & roll, and politics without taking himself so seriously that he goes unheard. What's most interesting about this album is that it sounds as though Langford has nothing to prove to anyone, which by this point in his career he doesn't, and instead, he comes across as a man who woke up one morning and decided he'd better get all these songs down on tape while he had a free day between projects. After looking at the credits and seeing seven different sources for the material, this turns out to be a false assumption and instead a rather smart trick, since all the material sits side by side so comfortably. Langford has stripped away the polished electric pop of his first solo record, Skull Orchard, for a more direct approach, by placing his voice more up front and augmenting the majority of the material with Jon Rice's deft skill (other members of the Chicago scene also appear in places), while maintaining the majesty he projects on the bulk of his outings and conveying humor without novelty, beauty without preciousness, and a message without being heavy-handed. While most of the record follows a rollicking country bent, parts of the album, especially the title track and "The Country Is Young," have an air of elegant thoughtfulness and rivulets of experimentation seeping through. While clocking in at a short 29 minutes, All the Fame of Lofty Deeds succeeds in bringing the listener through a relaxed and ultimately optimistic journey through an effortless period in Jon Langford's life.

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