In late 2013 Lost & Found began work on a new recording at Mountain Fever Records. Due to health issues being faced by the group’s founder, Allen Mills, the project was shelved for some time. Now, ten years later, we officially have Final Chapter, an eight song release consisting of the last studio recordings by one of bluegrass music’s seminal acts.
From the first few bars of Scott Napier’s mandolin intro on Dreamer’s Hill, there’s absolutely no mistaking that this is a Lost & Found recording. Their unique identity as a band is all over this project. The aforementioned song, written by Dewitt Johnson Jr., is a nostalgic lament about days which have gone by. This track also showcases the smooth vocal harmonies of Allen Mills, guitarist Dan Wells, and banjoist Ronald Smith.
Giving Up On You is one of two tracks written by Dan Wells. The song which discusses moving on from a past love is about as traditional as you can get in terms of melody and arrangement. This track in particular spotlights Wells’ clear tenor voice as well as Ronald Smith’s straight forward Scruggs style banjo playing. The other Wells original, Who Will You Call, has more of a swing feel and harkens back to the recordings Lost & Found made in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mountain Folks, co-authored by JC Poff and Allen Mills, describes the simple laidback lifestyle of those who make their home in the mountains. It’s another track that is unmistakably a Lost & Found song. It’s once again reminiscent of the material that the band recorded in an earlier decade.
Your Old Standby comes from the Jim Eanes catalog and is another track that displays Ronald Smith’s skills as a traditional style banjoist. This is also one of the songs that was really made for Allen Mills’ smooth lead voice.
How Great Thou Art is performed here as a mandolin instrumental by Scott Napier. Combining elements of the late Dempsey Young’s style along with his own ideas, Napier’s arrangement of this old hymn is one of the true highlights of this recording.
Same Old Town comes from the repertoire of country singer Skeets MacDonald and is rendered here as a duet by Allen Mills and Dan Wells. This swing oriented track does a wonderful job of displaying the great vocal blend that Mills and Wells have.
The project ends with Put It Off Until Tomorrow, a song from an earlier session with original mandolinist Dempsey Young as well as Scottie Sparks on guitar and lead vocal. Written by Dolly Parton and first recorded by Bill Phillips in 1965, this track proved to be an emotional listen. Considering that this is the group’s final release, it’s only fitting to have one more song featuring Dempsey, the man who played a large role in the sound and identity that fans have come to know and love.
Final Chapter somberly holds more than one meaning. Not only are they the last recordings of the Lost & Found, but are also some of the last featuring Jason Moore on bass, whose untimely passing occurred eight years after these sessions took place. Nonetheless it’s a beautiful effort that will cement Lost & Found’s musical legacy even further.