With a legacy now stretching back over three decades, Lost & Found are among the most resilient and beloved bands in bluegrass. Their newest album, poignantly titled Love, Lost and Found, finds the quartet of Allen Mills (bass, vocals), Ronald Smith (banjo, vocals), Scottie Sparks (guitar, vocals) and Scott Napier (mandolin) emerging from a turbulent and tragic period in the band’s history with grace and honor, respectfully acknowledging a debt to the past while continuing to hone their own unique sound.
Their first recording in seven years, Love, Lost and Found is also the band’s first release since the passing of founding member Dempsey Young in late 2006. It is only fitting that the album features Young’s last recorded performances side by side with contributions from Napier, who joined Lost & Found in the autumn of 2007. “Dempsey’s on exactly half of the tracks and I’m on the other half,” Napier explained to TheBluegrassBlog.com shortly after joining. “So it was like having him in the studio with us.”
Love, Lost and Found is honest music – pure, although not always so simple. Lost & Found wisely sidestep the bells and whistles that so often tarnish modern bluegrass albums (drums, ridiculously breakneck tempos, etc.), in favor of the direct, sincere approach that has endeared them to so many for so long. Opener “Back in the Arms” is sparklingly fresh, with Mills’ bouncy bassline supporting the clean, uncluttered work of Smith, Napier, and Sparks. Dempsey Young’s mandolin introduces the next track, “I Want to be Wanted,” a yearning song highlighted by a rich Mills lead vocal. “A Daisy a Day” features Young on lead vocals, his conversational, unassuming delivery elevating the song’s heartfelt message of undying love to touching effect.
Along with Gene Parker and Roger Handy, Allen Mills and Dempsey Young founded Lost & Found in Martinsville, Virginia in 1973. Local attention gave way to regional popularity, and by the early eighties the band had toured all across the United States, Canada, and even to Europe. After recording for a smaller local outfit, Lost & Found signed on with Rebel Records in 1980, a relationship that continues to this day and has resulted in a long string of successful recordings. Mills and Young dealt with a number of line-up changes, while never losing sight of the core musical values they had begun with. Their last album, It’s About Time, featured “Johnston’s Grocery Store,” a number one radio hit on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart.
Love, Lost and Found is a welcomed addition to their catalog for multiple reasons. The album upholds Lost & Found’s ongoing commitment to first-rate bluegrass, delivered with an abundance of conviction, clarity, and charm. Yet, aside from the undeniable musical quality of Love, Lost and Found, there is even greater joy in knowing that Lost & Found have decided to continue their journey. Their sound, their style, their spirits, and their commitment to their music and their fans have been tested by tragedy. With Love, Lost and Found, they recognize the rich contributions of Dempsey Young, and honor his memory by carrying on the legacy he began so many years ago.