Langhorne Slim And The Law The Spirit Moves on 180g LP + Download
Sometimes, truth can't be explained. But it can be felt, running wild through a song. "I don't want to tame myself. I want to be wild," says Langhorne Slim. "If I can continue to refine the wildness but never suffocate or tame it, then I'm on the right path. Because it is a path. I feel it." The Spirit Moves is Langhorne's newest artistic attempt to refine the wildness. The result is an effervescent collection of his now-signature, cinematic, joyful noise, rooted in folk, soul, and blues. Out on Dualtone Records, the album marks his second with rock-solid band The Law, and the highly anticipated follow-up to 2012's critically acclaimed The Way We Move.
The Spirit Moves is a stunning portrait of Langhorne's life in transition: the "born to be in motion and follow the sun" rambler found a home in Nashville, Tennessee. While he's put down roots in a place, he's unattached to a person, single for the first time in recent memory. The Spirit Moves is also the first album of his career written and recorded entirely sober. Together, the record's beautiful glimpses of bold beginnings and risks taken create an ode not only to a better life, but to the vulnerability needed to live it.
"I'm a strong believer that sensitivity and vulnerability are not weaknesses. They're some of the greatest strengths of man and woman kind," Langhorne says. "And that's what a lot of the record is about." Langhorne and The Law sought out engineer Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff) and recorded The Spirit Moves at Tokic's studio, the Bomb Shelter, in East Nashville. Producing duties were shouldered by Langhorne, the band, and trusted cohort Kenny Siegal, reuniting the family behind The Way We Move.
"I went to battle with my demons, and I'm still doing it," Langhorne says. "My brothers stood beside me and kicked ass on the record." Three of his brothers are The Law: drummer Malachi DeLorenzo, bassist Jeff Ratner, and keys and banjo player David Moore. "My band is not a hired gun group of guys," Langhorne says. "They are my band and they are uniquely spectacular." And then, there's brother Kenny Siegal. "In Kenny, I've found a musical brother," he says. "We drive each other crazy, but the man understands me somehow in an energetic, spiritual sense, more than most anyone I've ever met."
Langhorne wasn't looking for a co-writer, but that's exactly what Siegal became for eight of the record's songs, making The Spirit Moves the first time Langhorne has ever written with someone else for an album. For Langhorne, writing is often an arduous process. "I rarely write a complete song immediately," he explains. "Every once in a while, one hits, but songs mostly come in pieces. Those pieces build up and start to taunt me as they swirl around in my head. Eventually, they make me feel like I'm going totally crazy. It's like they're gonna devour me - eat me alive."
He pushed through alone to pen some of the tracks, chasing each song's individual truth. In creating others, Siegal helped him put the pieces together. What emerged is a record that delights in contradiction: freewheeling but purposeful; celebratory but confessional; looking to light even when it's dark. Langhorne's voice - an arresting howl sublimely at home in a Mississippi roadhouse or on a Newport stage - has never sounded better.
He wrote the title track just weeks before entering the studio, "terrified that I didn't have enough and what I had wasn't good enough." The song is no mere reflection, but a manifestation of unbridled joy, and a celebration of opening up oneself to the supernatural that surrounds us. "Changes" is an intimate look at a soul being reborn, but Langhorne hopes each listener can hear something of their own in it. The refusal to let a heart harden helped bring about "Life's a Bell," a dreamy call-to-action that nods to '50s rock-and-roll and Sly and the Family Stone.
"Wolves," based on a James Kavanaugh poem, tackles similar subject matter, and Langhorne feels it's the "truest expression of myself that I've put into a song." The rollicking "Southern Bells" pulses with the optimism of a new day, while "Strongman" and its piano pay tribute to perseverance and seizing the moment. "Whisperin'" captures another kind of breakthrough, relatable and intense, while "Strangers" is classic Langhorne Slim, and begs to be danced to, uninhibited and free.
"Airplane" is a poignant example of his ability to capture the redemptive hope in desperation. Part meditation, part urging of an unnamed co-conspirator, the song puts his defiantly tender vocals front and center, hugged by a rotating cast of instruments that kicks off with stark guitar and piano, swells into lush strings and percussion, then ebbs back into its stripped-down beginning - like the waves of confidence and doubt that make up faith itself.