You look at a name like Langhorne Slim, and you probably think you have a pretty good idea what you're in for; at best, you'd be about half right. Slim is an east coast blues rocker - born in PA, based in NY - who specializes in an unconventional mix of laid-back country, bluegrass, folk and blues, with just a dash of punk sensibility thrown in for good measure. With a distinct voice somewhere amidst the likes of Bob Dylan, Josh Ritter and David Grey, he's the sort of guy who gets a song on a Rolling Stone top ten list, but tours with the eclectic, eccentric Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players just for fun (not to mention the likes of Cake and The Violent Femmes).
Langhorne's latest is a self-titled release filled with what Slim himself calls "love songs," 13 short ditties ranging from mournful and downtrodden to upbeat and raucous, all of which feature eccentric lyrics coupled with traditional melodies tinged with just the right amount of oddity. It's a powerful mix of energy and vulnerability, not unlike a 3rd level wizard in a Dungeons & Dragons game (pre 4th Edition, that is).
"Spinning Compass," which opens the album, is a fun little bar song with a catchy hook, sounding something like what you'd get if you took a Counting Crows song, doused it in beer, chopped it in half lengthwise and then folded it back on itself. Or something like that. "Rebel Side of Heaven" is a two-and-a-half minute, three-act single with a sassy, brassy bridge, the sort of thing that Tori Amos will drag out past six minutes when she inevitably covers it. "Hello Sunshine" is a big, happy Ben Folds bubble of a song that starts out way up high and never dips very far; it's appropriately followed by the way-down bluesy "Diamonds and Gold," which sounds like Bob Dylan's tour bus ran into the Cowboy Junkies on a dark night in the middle of the desert. It's the sadder side of Slim that's the strongest, and nowhere is that more evident than on album closer "Hummingbird"; the album's longest song at just over 4 minutes, it's a melancholy, lazy piece that takes its time crooning to an empty bar just after last call.
Favorite Track: "Hummingbird"
Michael Fiegel is a freelance writer and graphic designer. His diverse
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