The press release address was Los Angeles, CA, but the sounds I was hearing told me this couldn’t be true. There was certainly a shimmer to the music indicative of the sheen that Hollywood always applies, but the songs were folksy, with a glint of Appalachian bluegrass thrown in for good measure. The answer, of course, is Langhorne Slim & The Law, importing their own brand of folk to the West Coast.
Langhorne Slim & The Law released their newest album, The Way We Move, last year and have been receiving rave reviews for it ever since. Unfortunately, because of that, I can’t be very original in my opinion. The Way We Move has found its way into my regular listening rotation for over a week now and every time it begins I find myself listening to the very end. The upright bass of Jeff Ratner, the plucking banjo and keys of David Moore, and the straightforward drum styling of Malachi DeLorenzo make up The Law and provide an appealing surface to lay Slim’s raspy vocals.
What I find interesting about this record is how, on about half of it, the instrumentation is often played very straight and low-key. For instance, in one of my favorite songs on the record, “Salvation”, the music is almost at a whisper, which let’s Slim’s voice push the song in every emotional manner he desires. Yet faintly, while your attention is diverted, the pluck of the banjo captures you and you find yourself caught in a web of wonderfully crafted music. This makes the other times, when the band begins stomping its foot and making noise – such as in the title track, “The Great Divide”, and “Two Crooked Hearts” – all that more appreciated. Yet, even when it gets loud and full, it never becomes overbearing. There’s always a little breathing room here. It’s like a party you’re hosting – not a house party where everyone you’ve invited has invited three friends of their own, none of which you like – everyone here is welcome.
The songs on The Way We Move are at once both catchy and poignant. In just one verse of “Coffee Cups”, Slim manages to tell us about being from a broken family, his conflicted feelings for both his parents, about how he’s moved away from his home, and even his preferences of the weather. He does it with a catch in his throat and listening puts one in mine too. In a world that Idolizes celebrities, Langhorne Slim & The Law remind us that they’re as human as we are, full of the aspirations and imperfections that make them interesting to listen to in the first place.
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