|01-27-2010, 08:54 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Langhorne Slim - Be Set Free
Be Set Free
Kemado Records, 2009
I first came upon slim when I was young, stupid, and throwing money at anything that sounded like it was recorded in someones house. While at lot of that cash was wasted, Electric Love Letter (ep) is still one of the best investments I've ever made musically and encourage everyone to buy it.
Today I came across Be Set Free (2009) and with a fist-full of iTunes gift cards and a hunger for something raw I bought the whole album. With only one listen through I can't say where it ranks in my favorite albums of all time but lets say I wouldn't make a statement like that if I didn't think it could be up there.
Slim will play all over the map with enough influences from bluegrass, country, folk, blues, gospel, and pop that its safe to call him "roots." But what he does best are slow burning laments that fuse gospel from the bayou and blues from the Robert Johnson School of the Crossroads into simple but poignant gems, mined from a vein that likely comes from Willie Nelson country.
Be Set Free will show you this better than just about anything else I've heard and the final track, Boots Boy, with its jug stomp testimony is the albums shining gem in my estimation. You've heard it all before, the theme, the lyrics, even the arrangement, but Slims talent is undeniable in that the soul in his voice is so genuine it sounds like this is innovative **** come down from mars. The other slow/soul burning track here is "sunday by the sea" and it puts front and center Slims other major talent, which is putting you where he is. I've never heard another artist who sounds like what Amber Waves of Grain are to the American Landscape. While Sunday is a time-worn tale of loss its slow-rolling strings give you all the mosaic you could need. Even the vision-less can find there way in this one.
What you won't get on this album is his uptempo power. While Cinderella is certainly upbeat, it lacks the soul that is a typical companion of a Langhorne song. Couple this with parts of the music sounding like Elvis Costello's "Pump it Up" and it just comes off as filler though you can tell its not the intention. Contrasted with the earlier "Cut it Down," its easy to see how the showmanship of the live show, and the power of the everyman rally every man just doesn't translate to the studio where the draw of emotion from the crowd is absent.
But for a chap like myself, no greater gem comes through an album like won that is aimed directly at me. I have to make special mention of "So glad that I'm coming home." Its got the drunken dance-hall waltz of a man who's had one too many shots of Wild Turkey or has just received the best news in the world. And the fiddles all shriek from the porch in their revelry that you can almost smell the specter of waits all over this one.
In short, if you're a fan of sitting in the grass barefoot with friends writing up the party plan for the hootenanny you ought to do yourself a favor and get this album, or at least try the best tracks on it...
Sunday by the Sea
Leaving my love
So Glad I'm Coming Home.