Langhorne Slim & The Law are back. And they’ve brought the loud, aggressive tunes as well as the tender heartfelt songs with them on their second record The Spirit Moves. The title track begins the record as Langhorne strums the first chord of his electric guitar. Yes I did say the E word – that dreadful E word that folk-lovers despise – but the percussion and heavy banjo strumming overpower the guitar, which almost depletes its electric colours. After all, it’s Langhorne Slim. Even his electric songs are played with a uniquely acoustic singer/songwriter vibe.
Changes really speaks to me as its message clearly presents how Langhorne has overcome past drug addictions. On this record he’s “ripped out pages” and “rattled cages” completing his first album as a sober man. The calm, quiet chord progression beautifully gels with the lyrics and the result is a true, unashamed attempt at art.
There’s really no other waltz like a Langhorne waltz, and a perfect example of this is Life’s A Bell. Although the song is dominated by Langhorne’s guitar and vocals, it’s easy to tell that the music is building towards some climax. As the keys start ticking away and the drums rage on, a horn section enters which is dominated by trumpet. “Life’s a song that must be sung.”
The next few songs please true fans the most, with the pop optimism of Langhorne’s oooo oooo’s and do dooo’s in Put It Together and Strangers. Langhorne seemed to have found a groove while recording these songs, which carried over into the next track Southern Bells, a four-minute roller coaster of loud and soft vocals, and aggressive and soft percussion.
Behind Langhorne’s raucous stage presence and up-beat happy songs lies an existential, tender lyricist who is well aware that every song he releases can’t be another rocking dance number. Airplane is the deep track on this record that displays his natural ability to sing about carefree living and dreaming big. “It’s no fun relying on defenses, we get our kicks swingin’ for the fence. I said yes. I want to fly my airplane tonight.” Langhorne Slim & The Law have injected more magic into the veins of the indie folk genre with no signs of ever discontinuing their inimitable acoustic, hillbilly sound.
Scott J. Herman