Sound — 6
You pop in the eponymous album from this young, unknown folk singer from Pennsylvania not knowing what to expect. Langhorne could easily sink into a niohe of "cheap Bob Dylan rip-off" or "songwriter so smashed out of his mind that his songs' only appeal are their quirkiness." Instead, as you let the album roll, you are hit with the energetic opening numbers, "Spinning Compass" and "Rebel Side of Heaven." These songs have a very exciting feel to them that drives to a satisfying climax (the last 20 seconds of Rebel Side of Heaven are quite energetic). After these two, Langhorne begins to settle into his more relaxed, introspective songs. Kicking off this section is, in my opinion, one of the best cuts off the album; "Restless." The real power in this song lies in the lyrics but the beautiful quiet (yet intense) acoustics elevate Langhorne's personal search to a level that really grabs the listener. Two more highlights from this set include "Collete" and "Diamonds and Gold" (a track equal to "Restless" in quality). Slim mixes in two romping numbers here as well; "She's Gone," with a whirling keyboard solo at the end will send any listener's foot stomping; and "Hello Sunshine," which builds and soars throughout but, I must admit, leaves the listener unsatisfied as the climax never really hits. Now, Following "Diamonds and Gold" is the second half of the album. This is where Langhorne's first major release begins to lose interest. The songs on this side of the album lack the fresh feel of the first tracks. The songs bleed into one another and fail to leave any sort of impression. It almost sounds as if all of these numbers were written as filler. I think if these songs had been mixed in with the first ones, they would have provided a nice breath of fresh air; but positioned all together at the end, they leave the album feeling half-finished. Overall, Slims sound is still being developed and he needs to stick to the more soulful side of things such as "Diamonds and Gold" and "She's Gone" instead of the dylan-esque songs like "Oh Honey" or the quirky bluegrassy songs such as "Tipping Point." Aside from Slim himself, performances by the drummer (Malachi DeLorenzo) and the Bassist (Paul Defiglia) are absolutely outstanding. The sound is very intense and exciting, yet it retains a light, hopeful feeling throughout.
Lyrics — 9
Now, one thing that Langhorne has a very good grasp of is lyrics. Langhorne has the chops to become quite the poet, and where his lyrical skills are lacking on some tracks of the album, Slim is able to fully recover with his VERY strong voice. Some of the songs that show off Slim's lyrical abilities are "Tipping Point" ("Found one red rose at a murder scene / with a note that read, 'you know what I mean' / I was so hung up, I could hardley speak" "We are not what we own / and then that I would sink like stone / The flowers are tired from being grown / The end is near, so lets go home"), "Restless" ("One day I felt so good, nothing could bring me down / The next morning, I awoke, I was plastered to the ground / Whistle your favorite tune when it's all said and done / If your maker don't approve, at least you know you've had your fun"), and the closing track, "Humming Bird" ("I've been leaning on you / Without reason or truth / Now I'm dreaming of leaving my daemons / and the first one I'm leaving is you"). Admittedly, some of the lyrics get mundane, such as in "Diamonds and Gold" ("There's no fold to follow, only stones left unturned / You must play with fire in order to get burned") but, listen to the song for yourself and hear Slim as he belts out these lyrics with soul and passion and see if you don't find yourself saying "HELL yea, Langhorne!" I know I did.
Overall Impression — 10
This album has its faults, admittedly, but the beauty of this album is that it really shows off Langhorne's potential as a singer and as a songwriter. While his songs are not always top notch here, there are enough gems in the album to leave the listener interested in what is comming next. If he can tweak his lyrics just a hair and cut out the songs in which he tries to be what he is not. Langhorne Slim could become a force to be reckoned with in the music world. I would certainly buy this album if it were ever lost. It is artists like Langhorne that often get so rudely overlooked when people say "they don't make music like they used to." You really have to dig, admittedly (I would not know of Langhorne Slim had it not been for a chance sighting at a local music festival), but there is still good music out there, and Langhorne is one of the best of 'em. Look out for him in the future.