Call for Book Reviewers and Bloggers

Music
cover art

Langhorne Slim & the Law

The Way We Move

(Ramseur; US: 5 Jun 2012; UK: 5 Jun 2012)

An infectiously ramshackle tear through some honest Americana.

Over the past decade or so, there haven’t been too many singer-songwriters who have made consistently good records. Somehow, Langhorne Slim & the Law never delivered anything but, yet he consistently slipped under the radar. It’s also worth noting that none of his records were truly great. All of that should change with The Way We Move, which is one of the most joyous listening experiences I’ve had with a full-length all year. While it may not break him out right away, it’s got enough staying power to keep him in a poised position to do so eventually. It’s a fantastic full-length that straddles the blurry folk-rock/americana genre line and is anchored by his whiskey-battered rasp.


The Way We Move begins with the unbelievable one-two punch of the records title track and “Bad Luck”. The former is an uptempo barn-burner about thriving on chaos and uncertainty. The song’s unique brand of surprisingly grounded sunny optimism is emphasized perfectly by the acoustic instrumental palette and punctuated by a brass section. Everything except the concept and the horns carry over to “Bad Luck”, which has an open-roads swing and defiance to it. “I was born with a thorn in my soul, sometimes it hurts / I might not got much but I know what it’s worth” sings Slim in his signature rasp, perfectly content with any misgiving and injecting the song with a raw honesty that suits the music itself extremely well.


While “Fire” slows the pace of the opening two tracks, it certainly doesn’t diminish the quality and proves the band is fully capable of incorporating vintage soul influence. Swirled organs and a restrained Menomena-esque horn section drive the song towards a powerhouse ending and lead into “Salvation” beautifully. “Salvation” is The Way We Move‘s first really quiet moment and places the focus on Slim’s songwriting abilities and reveal an often-overlooked talent. “I want to hold you but my hands are cold / I meant to catch you but I moved too slow / I hate to leave but I know / it’s time to go” goes one particularly memorable chorus, which demonstrates Slim’s penchant for strong writing about the temporary and the unknown.


Ensuing track “On the Attack” recalls Ben Harper in his finest mode and slows the albums pace even more and puts it in danger of derailing into a scattershot sequencing. Then the records shortest track, “Someday”, manages to become a perfect bridge between the albums opening and middle third and as such stands out as one of the strongest moments. The urgency of the opening two tracks is returned with the shuffling “Great Divide” that breathes even more life into The Way We Move before Slim and his band find the perfect balance between their slow and fast modes with the mid-tempo “Just A Dream”. Then the album softly retreats into one of its quietest moments with the devastating “Song for Sid” that brings everything to a hushed halt in just the right place. It marks The Way We Move‘s most unexpectedly powerful and poignant moment and is a requiem of sorts for the titular character.


“Found My Heart” gradually, appropriately, brings some fire back to the proceedings and continuously builds its way to an explosive and abrupt ending. “Wild Soul” is the sound of smoke clearing and things winding down and includes both a beautiful horn and whistle section. When the two sections overlap at the end, it creates something that seems familiar but is new territory for the band- and it suits them well. “Two Crooked Hearts” is their last wild trail-blazer and one of the album’s best. It’s a two-minute tear about foolish love and crooked minds. The Way We Move closes itself out with two ballads. The first of which, “Coffee Cups” is almost entirely vocals and guitar apart from some well-place chime drones. It’s a beautiful track that touches, once again, on resilience.


The gospel-tinged piano-driven “Past Lives” is The Way We Move‘s final moment and it’s a stunner. “Past Lives” is a passionate ode to just living and taking everything in as it comes. No song on The Way We Move is sung with as much impassioned ferocity as “Past Lives” and it acts as a perfect closer. After the final notes had faded away, I had the distinct feeling I’d just immersed myself in a great story and, like all great stories, something worth revisiting. So I listened to The Way We Move again and once more after that. Each listen revealed new layers and instead of the impact of the songs fading, they were heightened. Don’t be surprised if this makes some surprise appearances on more than a few year-end lists. It’ll deserve the spots.

Rating:

Steven is a writer, musician, and filmmaker from Wisconsin who has spent his fair share of time in the entertainment trenches. He frequently contributes reviews and interviews to Playground Misnomer, which can be accessed here: http://www.playgroundmisnomer.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @unbusyinwi.


Media
Langhorne Slim & the Law - The Way We Move
Related Articles
18 Sep 2012
With his new 2012 release being heralded as one of his finest to date, the home-spun, always-opinionated, and fun-loving Langhorne Slim sits down with PopMatters to discuss Dali, Ziggy Stardust, and, of course, the film Rudy. ...
20 Aug 2012
Relentless touring, an emphasis on quality songwriting, and recording live prove to be the key to The Way We Move, Langhorne Slim's most accessible and dynamic album to date.
By PopMatters Staff
25 Jan 2010
Slipped Discs continues with hip-hop royalty, a genre-busting classical quartet, the future of soul music, an Americana demigod and many more. All records that missed our top 60 list last year.
7 Jan 2010
A triumphant, sprawling affair likely to please a wide variety of demographics: neo-folkies, Dylan-heads, and even pop fans.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
Win a 15-CD Pack of Brazilian Music CDs from Six Degrees Records! in PopMatters Contests on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.