Langhorne Slim bleeds passion and sweats good vibes. It’s really as simple as that. There is an energy and a vibrance in his music that transcends songwriting or musicianship. The man lives to perform music for people and that fact oozes from each and every bit of his being. A man who can make you feel good and smile, even when the tenor of his lyrics border on the slightly downtrodden, well that’s quite a feat to behold. A feat that gets you moving and the muscles in your face turning upwards into a grin.
Langhorne’s latest release “The Spirit Moves” is an accurate title for the man’s effort in this collection of songs. There certainly is a spirit to Slim’s songs and this record claims to have the writer digging a bit deeper than previous works. Per the artist’s management “Having just moved across the country, living a single and sober life for the first time in a long time, this new album is a stunning portrait of Langhorne’s life in transition.” While I hadn’t often counted Slim on the list of the deepest writers I’ve come across or most poignant folks with the pen, this record both in content and arrangement takes its time building the story and letting it all sink in. There isn’t pretention or overthinking in his writing. The artist writes from a personal place that is straightforward, direct and palpable, easy to digest while getting the point and emotion across.
On the first track he exclaims “When I said you’re strange / it was a compliment, you know”. Slim is a character all his own. Making no apologies for loving life, but being vulnerable at the same time. The slow burn and churn of many of the songs, slow picked and shuffling as in “Airplane”, makes the building and the release of the track all that much more impactful. Langhorne takes the listener for a ride along a meandering country road, then ejects them from the seat and into space, slowly crooning them back down to earth. The heart and zeal in his performances captured here in undeniable.
Although the tune “Whisperin” becomes a bit repetitive for me at some points, its where Slim’s emotion and pain truly comes to a head and is the most affecting and heartrending. He sings out “How do you sleep at night holdin’ another / Then re-apply your lipstick to kiss me?” Now, that’s a line that is going to cut and leave a scar on whoever it may be directed to.
Langhorne’s music is a dish that is best served hot, steam still rising from it, and live. I feel as though his spirit and the drive that he pours into his music is best felt in a show setting, him leaving the stage to sing with the audience. Spirit, however, does show an artist at a transition point. Maturing and learning what it means to let folks in a bit, crack the door and perhaps let the vulnerability take over just a tiny bit. That is where this album succeeds for me. You can hear it in his voice and the words that he has laid out for the listener. His passion shows through and in the end, that’s what matters the most.