by Jane Roser
“There are men too gentle to live among wolves.”
Sean Scolnick, better known by his catchy moniker Langhorne Slim, was inspired to write “Wolves” (off his new record The Spirit Moves) when his friend sent him a copy of the James Kavanaugh poem upon which it’s based. Langhorne kept going back and re-reading it, feeling deeply connected to its content and “finding truths that I believe have lived within my spirit before I was flesh or something, it felt very ancient. That was one of the easier songs to write; it seemed to land upon me instead of having to battle for it.”
Released August 7th by Dualtone Music, The Spirit Moves has become Langhorne Slim and The Law’s highest charting record on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart and has received a slew of high praise for the album’s heart, honesty and “emotional carnage”. Exploring themes of change, growth and new beginnings, the album is the first Langhorne Slim and The Law album not to be recorded in New York, but rather in a new hometown: Nashville.
“I’ve gone through a lot of changes while living here, “says Langhorne. “I think that finding Nashville at that particular time in my life helped to support those changes. I was able to buy an amazing, magical house, so I’ve got a nicer place to stay when I’m off the road instead of sleeping on people’s couches or renting small rooms, which I was doing. I got myself sober, which was something that was a long time coming and that all kind of happened once I got here; I think I formed a connection here with my surroundings that I hadn’t found up until that point.”
Feeling he had a lot to prove to himself with this new record, a newly sober Langhorne needed to realize he could still make music and found a “beautiful and terrifying ordeal” on the road ahead. Persevering, he embraced any uncomfortable or frightening feelings instead of shutting them out and the result is glorious record chock full of all of that blood, sweat and tears.
In December, the band (which also includes drummer Malachi DeLorenzo, bassist Jeff Ratner and keyboard/banjo player David Moore) announced that Stetson would be sponsoring their 2016 winter tour and a limited edition Stetson X Langhorne hat would be available for sale online and at live shows. Several years ago, the band participated in Stetson’s Center Stage video shoot.
“Artists come in and film these really pretty videos in [Stetson’s] office and in return you get a couple of hats and a cool video,” explains Langhorne. “I wear hats every morning, afternoon and night of my life, and I love vintage clothes and have had aspirations to design clothes. Someone put into my head- why don’t you see if you can design a hat? So we checked with [Stetson] and to my amazement they were interested. I told them about my love of Buster Keaton and Huck Finn and Oliver Twist, and told them about this hat I had found in a second hand shop in Oregon and lost in a Nashville flood. I wanted to combine that with some other inspirations and they said ‘cool, let’s do it.’ I went to Texas and designed it with their hat maker Matt Deckard and we made 300 of them, one of which I’m wearing as we speak.”
Langhorne Slim and The Law have toured heavily for so long and they never hold songs back. When Langhorne writes a song, he plays it for the rest of the band and then they work it up at live shows. “We essentially learn it as we play it in front of an audience, so a lot of the songs that are now on the record aren’t necessarily new for us or for the fans that have been coming to our shows consistently; they may have heard it six months before the record comes out.
The album’s second single “Changes” is one Langhorne enjoys performing live and is also one a lot of fans sing along to. Auto Trader uses the song in their ads and it’s often aired during football games. “Every Sunday I get text messages that say ‘Holy shit, they’re playing your song’,” laughs Langhorne. “Having our songs in films and on television helps to get our music out there and we’re really grateful for that.”
On February 10th Langhorne Slim and The Law will open for The Devil Makes Three at the TLA and being from Bucks County (bassist Ratner is from “one town over from me”), the whole family comes out to support them. “I played a solo show [at the TLA] as an opener when I first started out, but we’ve never played there as a band before. I’d pass it on South Street all the time as a kid and would dream of playing there,” says Langhorne. “It took awhile for us to catch on at home, so it’s nice that we’ve gotten some love in Philly. We get good crowds and enthusiasm and passion from our family and old friends, and from beautiful strangers, so it’s always an exciting event whenever we come home.”