With his high, nasally voice and predilection for warm country-inspired chords, it's easy to compare Langhorne Slim to Neil Young, but his tendency to sing long, run-on, and often non-rhyming sentences in fact puts him nearer to the Bob Dylan school of performance. Both comparisons, however, are a little too flattering for the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Pennsylvania folksinger, who, while he and his band do occasionally offer a rousing chorus or inspired line, more often falls a little short, trying to do too much with too little, overemphasizing when he should tone down, pulling back when he should push forward. Musically, the album draws from country, folk, and pop, with plenty of major chords and strummed acoustic guitar. It's uncomplicated, but it works decently, the only problems arising when the band attempts to do more than nicely layered harmonies, like in the opening track, "Spinning Compass," which manages to make a simple string riff sound forced and out of the group's league. This is all excusable: folk music, or neo-folk, doesn't need to be overly complex; the instrumentals can serve their purpose if they provide a suitable background and complement to the vocalist. This, however, is where the real drawback of Langhorne Slim occurs. He's a capable, even emotive, singer, but his lyrics suffer from a lack of innovation and an inflated sense of profundity. In the painfully didactic and saccharine "Diamonds and Gold," Slim gives hackneyed advice that only works in old soul and gospel songs. "It's all right to change your style, it's all right to smile/It's all right to get a little happy along the way," he sings, a line that is only trumped by an earlier phrase, "You must play with fire in order to get burned." Unfortunately, the rest of the album don't improve much, and by the time the last song -- the slow, sad "Hummingbird" -- comes along, it's hard to have much sympathy for the forlorn singer and his tired lyrics ("Well it's foolish to pretend/I can't do it again," "We've worn our backsides out/You know what I'm talking about"). It's not that there aren't any engaging moments here -- "Restless" is nicely minor and introspective, and the simplicity of "Oh Honey" actually works quite well -- but there are too many misses in between, enough to mar the good parts of Langhorne Slim, making for a sadly unfulfilling release.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown