Langhorne Slim & The Law – The Spirit Moves
Dualtone Records – 2017 (UK)
The Spirit Moves is the fifth album from the Nashville-based Sean Scolnick aka Langhorne Slim, originally released in 2015 the album is getting a UK reissue to coincide with his August tour (dates below).
Opening in a flurry with the romping title track featuring David Moore’s banjo and Mariachi horns, Slim serves up a joyful cocktail of folk, country, soul and blues, the album charting his journey to sobriety and being clean as well as finding strength in being single. Eight of the dozen tracks are co-penned with producer Kenny Siegal, among them the self-explanatory mid-tempo shuffling rhythm Changes with its intricate guitar lines.
By way of a musical shift, Put It Together is a soul-pop doo-wop influenced, piano-backed sway with horns again in evidence, while arranged for strings, the skittering Whisperin’ provides the post break up bitterness. Strangers scuffs up some rockabilly dust, complete with tremulous vocal delivery, while Life’s A Bell takes the pace down for another horns-blowing 50s soul swayer. Bells ring out again with Southern Bells, a rollicking charge of optimism with a galloping drum rhythm and an ooohing to the skies chorus as he sings “I never knew how steep the cliff was till I fell.”
The theme of a life reclaimed and the determination to take a hold also veins the slow march paced, piano-backed Strongman featuring one of his most soulful vocals. A similar sentiment that also underpins Wolves, which, based on a James Kavanaugh poem, features the confessional line “I’m tough enough to run with the bulls, yet I’m too gentle to live amongst wolves”, duly followed by a falsetto howl.
Arguably the most potent song comes with Airplane. It combines both hope and the lure of the wild side which, opening with simple piano and guitar, gradually swells on a tide of strings and percussion before ebbing back to calm as he sings how “Some people live trying to be forgiven, that might be life, oh but that ain’t livin’.”
It ends, however, on a simple, almost folk hymnal note of possible reconciliation and forgiveness, with himself as much as others, with the simple acoustic Meet Again. He acknowledges the crooked road to which he belongs but sings that “there’s nothing left for us to fear except ourselves and what we’ve done here”. He adds “If we should meet again, depending on where and when, I would hold you in my arms and take back all that I done wrong.”
He’s of the firm belief that being vulnerable does not make you weak, that there is a strength in defying the odds, or as he says, “It’s no fun relying on defenses, we get our kicks swingin’ for the fence”. This one knocks it out.
Langhorne Slim Tour Dates (Solo)
24th Aug – Empire, Belfast
25th Aug – Whelan’s, Dublin
26th Aug – Broadcast, Glasgow
28th Aug – The Cluny, Newcastle Upon Tyne 29th Aug – Komedia, Bath
31st Aug – O2 Academy, Islington, London 01st Sep – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton