An Elegy for the Lost City by Johnny Goldstein is a throwback to the golden age of swag. I’m not talking Jordans and fitted caps. The album represents the all-too-cool error of night club jazz, fedora hats, and the seduction of slow dancing with a lady friend. The tracks open with a number we all know in “Soc’s Lola,” followed by an upbeat saxophone-driven “New Orleans.” The song sounds just like the city. Immediately, we get a sense of what the album wants to be: an homage to the famed Louisiana city. Titles like “2005’s Hurricane Season” and “L’air de La Louisianne” give it away easily.
Elegy is no average CD. It compiles clearly over 25-30 songs at a long runtime. It’s like a marathon or anthology devoted to the continuous narrative of the southern hotspot. Trust me, though, it is less history lesson and more tribute. What catches your attention is the album’s diversity. It comprises of instrumentals, narrated entries, and vocalized numbers that sound nothing like the record before it. Some may call it an identity crisis but one must keep in mind Elegy’s choice of being a collection.
On the flip side, An Elegy for the Lost City’s downfall can be its audacity. It has one too many spoken interludes that, while substantial, can be enduring. The power of music is music. This tribute would have more impact on songs. More songs warranted are like the closing number “Fine and Mellow.” It is somber, modern, and the definition of blues. You can hear the pain in its guitar riffs. Once Carole Troll’s voice comes in we have an audial treat. She sings with confidence, referencing her man’s apparel: “My baby wears high draped pants with stripes…” It’s like she is adoring him and criticizing him at the same time. “If you treat me right, baby, I’ll stay home night and day, night and day, night and day,” she oozes with affirmation before informing him she could be driven away if he doesn’t change his ways.
Another favorite is the delicate “You Won’t See Me” sung live in 2005. It’s a departure from the uptempo elements of the majority of Elegy’s offerings, but is the album’s best lyrically. Fortunately, this mean An Elegy for the Lost City showcases something for everyone’s earbuds. Goldstein finds success in the album’s high spots even if you have to trudge through minutes (and minutes) of chit chat to get there.
by Erman Baradi