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Be Set Free

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Album Review

Langhorne Slim started out as a solo act before he worked his way up to a pair of accompanists, but it would seem he's gotten over the whole notion of minimal accompaniment on his third full-length album, Be Set Free. Produced by Chris Funk of the Decemberists, Be Set Free features Langhorne and his usual sidekicks Jeff Ratner on bass and Malachi DeLorenzo on drums, but there's also a wealth of guest musicians, most notably Sam Kassirer on a variety of keyboards, Funk taking on a handful of fretted instruments, and a small battalion of backing vocalists, horn players, and string musicians. Be Set Free sounds significantly more polished than Langhorne's previous studio sessions, with the arrangements and additional accompanists bringing a range of dynamics to the melodies that wasn't quite there before (certainly not on this scale), but even though this album sounds like Cinemascope compared to the more modest framings of Langhorne's previous LPs, the additional colors and patterns have been artfully applied and they serve to add to the tenor of his tunes rather than distracting from them; if this album was conceived on a (relatively) grand scale, it's never overdone. For all the imagination of the arrangements and production, Be Set Free is still clearly designed to honor Langhorne's songwriting, and the charm and passionate honesty of his lyrics are still at the root of these performances, with the arrangements reinforcing the passion of his vocals instead of drowning them out. (Langhorne also sounds more expert and sure of himself as a vocalist than ever before.) Be Set Free isn't a game-changing album so much as it confirms that Langhorne Slim's talent can work within a wider framework than he's used in the past and still honor his gifts, and it's an impressive, pleasurable work.

Customer Reviews

He keeps getting better with each release

This is a remarkable album, and definitely in my top 5 of the year. From his first major release, Slim has brought something new to the table on each of his subsequent releases. Be Set Free is great from start to finish. Fans of Josh Ritter, The Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan, and really great music in general need to buy this and all his other releases. Singer-Songwriter craftsmanship at its finest.

It'll make you feel good!

WARNING: Langhorne Slim may cause dancing and uncontrollable urges to sing along. Also, people who have listened to Slim have reported obsessive listening and other-artist amnesia.

Unexpected pleasure

I found Mr. Slim when my wife asked me to find out what the song on the Travelers Insurance commercial was. We looked him up and saw that he was playing at a local music shop (McCabe's in Santa Monica). We bought tickets and had a great time. We came home and I bought the album and have been recommending him to everyone. We're looking forward to his next show.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Something of a one-man mixture of the Cramps, Beck's early indie records (circa One Foot in the Grave), and the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou, singer and guitarist Langhorne Slim offers a sardonic, modern take on traditional folk, country, and blues. Fancifully dubbed "the bastard son of Hasil Adkins" in some of his early press releases, Langhorne Slim is in fact a Pennsylvania native who resettled in Brooklyn after his graduation from the State University of New York at Purchase. After...
Full Bio