Langhorne Slim – Be Set Free [Album Review]

by oz on October 13, 2009

Langhorne Slim is another in a great lineup of fall releases that includes American music from Port O’Brien, The Avett Brothers and Lucero. Be Set Free was released on September 29th and the single “I Love You, But Goodbye” was offered a month earlier and proved to be a good sample for what the album had in store. Much like contemporaries, The Avett Brothers, Langhorne continues to move further and further away from the country-folk style of his debut, When The Sun’s Gone Down, and more into pop-music territory on this release.

Like his self-titled album, he has a way to mask painful lyrics into upbeat songs that force frequent double-takes. Be Set Free opens with stringed arrangements and acoustic guitar on “Back To The Wild.” The aforementioned “I Love You, But Goodbye” is the breakup song of 2009 with lyrics “a bird with clipped wings can still sing but can no longer fly.”

As much as I like that line, I had trouble getting past the uninspired lyrics on the next song, “Land of Dreams:”

Everyone has got a dream.
You know what I mean?
Everyone wants to see what they’ve never seen.
You know what I mean?

Just when I was thinking “Oh no you didn’t just do that, Langhorne” with a finger snap and side-to-side head slide, he rebounds with the following lines:

I watch the shadows dance, hear the crickets creek.
Now I’m on the street.
I’ve learned the robin’s song, seen the mountain peak.
Now it’s time for sleep.

The banjo creeps in after the lines “Everyone becomes invisible in the land of dreams” and the song eventually becomes a favorite. Other standouts for me were the title track, “For a Little While” and “So Glad I’m Coming Home.” The best surprise on the album, however, is “Leaving My Love” when Langhorne is joined by Erika Wennerstrom of The Heartless Bastards on vocals. Eat your heart out Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

Langhorne Slim is touring the country now and his show is not one to miss. He’ll likely be rocking a fedora and wife beater as he earns every penny of your ticket price in screams, jumps and other sweaty antics.

MySpace | Kemado Records

Langhorne Slim – I Love You, But Goodbye

Video: Langhorne Slim – Back To The Wild

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

heather October 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm

i love this album, and had the pleasure of interviewing mister langhorne slim. count me a relatively new fan — i think this is a great album as well. thanks.

Jake October 13, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Love this album.

jesselun October 14, 2009 at 11:26 am

Best album of 2009

Nate October 20, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Just a couple things, it seems that I Love You But Goodbye is more about the DEATH of a loved one rather then a breakup. Langhorne isn’t really about songs all about breakups (he’s about getting over it, or what comes after it, but not really about just remorsing over a breakup). Plus a couple lines “how could you leave me all alone on this EARTH” and “why couldn’t I have been the one to live HERE first” seem to suggest more death then breakup.

And in “Land of Dreams” yes the lyrics are a bit uninspired for the first verse, but I think it works for the song. Cause after “Everyone has a dream,” you get that long break before the next line that leaves you expecting something really deep and almost snotty and “holier then thou” sounding. Instead he just brings it down to earth and shows that he’s here not to preach about how awesome he is, but to just talk about stuff, to share his thoughts, not demand that you accept them. I think its the best part of the song (I actually didn’t like the ending, but thats just cause I was expecting something stripped down after the first two tracks, still great tho).

oz October 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Nate – I agree. Thanks for the perspective.

Kevin October 22, 2009 at 10:16 am

I think it’s a great album for the most part, but you’re right in saying that some of the lyrics are cringeworthy.

My personal favorite (or least favorite)? “Put on your blue lipstick and I’ll put on my Venus boots/We’re in California but it might as well be the moon.”

Pretty much just wants to make me delete “Say Yes” from my iTunes.

Joshtinpowers January 27, 2010 at 7:52 am

“Land of Dreams” was used in a video package during last night’s episode of American Idol. Pretty surreal.

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