Langhorne Slim gets its name from the small Pennsylvanian town that lead singer Sean Scolnick grew up in. Langhorne must be some place special since it inspired Scolnick with a sunshine-filled attitude.
Okay, he might not be that rosy or happy, but on the third Langhorne Slim album Be Set Free it’s hard to tell that Scolnick feels anything but hope and faith. I don’t know if he’s a religious man, but Scolnick evokes the wisdom of scripture and displays the revelatory powers of Billy Graham.
But to be fair, Langhorne Slim is more celebratory in the vein of The Polyphonic Spree than hymnal akin to Charlotte Church, especially on the upbeat “Say Yes” which has the raise-your-hands and flail-your-arms kind of vibe of Spree’s infectious “Light & Day.” Okay, Church is an incomparable opposite, but Slim’s folk lyrics have the potential to unleash similar emotions that Church’s classical and operatic numbers could induce.
Slim sounds oddly spiritual at times, but surprisingly he comes across as more lovesick and lovelorn than forceful or preachy. The tearjerker “I Love You, But Goodbye” is less spick-and-span than a James Blunt single, while the title track is more soulful and expressive than many R&B songs (“When you’re tired, and you’re torn / And humankind seems filled with misery / Then you can, yes you can / You can be set free”). I’d imagine that either would play well as a cappella ballads, with the latter being a possible old school-style political campaign anthem.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the word gospel somewhere. I figured revelatory, spiritual, preachy, and Charlotte Church would be enough, but it never hurts to state the obvious.
Langhorne Slim’s Be Set Free has a consistent mix of genres and themes. The result is always a Slim sound that feels choral and mighty, yet austere and pastoral. It’s interesting to think that there could be accompanying orchestras and choirs on “For A Little While” or “Blown Your Mind” and the intimacy or passion wouldn’t be lost in scale or scope.