Whether a Mekon, a Waco Brother or solo, Jon Langford's three-decade commitment to the proletarian aesthetic of punk and roots has never wavered. His hoarse, Strummeresque hue and cry has proven equally adept at anthem shouting, dub-inflected pop and ageless Americana.
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Gold Brick, while decidedly rootsy, features elements from throughout Langford's career, tied together by his lyrics that mesh critiques of capitalism with concerns of the heart. "If I ever had a notion/If I ever had a fucking clue," Langford sings on "Workingman's Palace," expressing as much trepidation over the plight of the working class as his own beleaguered (drunken) state. But where Langford's previous efforts were delightfully chaotic, Gold Brick is the most focused, tightly constructed set of songs he's ever assembled. Such newfound clarity and production values can be shocking, but the candor of "Little Bit of Help," "Buy It Now" and, especially, "Lost in America" only serves to enhance the songs' delicate edges and catchy riffs. With Langford as a literate, aging punk troubadour, even a cover of Procol Harum's "A Salty Dog" is endearing and well-suited to the overall themes of recollection and repentance.