About Langhorne Slim
A rootsy singer and songwriter with a knack for heartfelt songs that draw on blues, folk, and country traditions, Langhorne Slim gives his music a sense of rough-hewn sincerity that can be both raucous and introspective. Langhorne is comfortable performing solo or with his combos the War Eagles or the Law, whose membership can expand or contract with his needs, though his performances tend to lean toward semi-acoustic contemporary folk. Langhorne Slim made an impressive, energetic debut with his 2005 album When the Sun's Gone Down, he began experimenting with bigger arrangements and production in 2009's Be Set Free, and 2021's Strawberry Mansion was a deeply personal set written in the wake of a personal crisis.
Langhorne Slim was born Sean Scolnick in Langhorne, Pennsylvania on August 20, 1980. Langhorne was an energetic kid with a rebellious streak, and he first began expressing his creativity through performing in community theater. In his early teens, his focus shifted to music, and he persuaded his mother to help him repair a guitar that had been given to her by a friend. He taught himself to play songs by Pearl Jam and Nirvana and wrote his first song at 14 by rearranging the chords for Nirvana's "Polly" and wedding the tune to new lyrics, calling the result "Lesbian Friend." After completing high school, Langhorne enrolled at Purchase College at the State University of New York, where he studied music. As he devoted more time to his songwriting, he began making the rounds of clubs in New York City and Philadelphia that catered to budding singer/songwriters. He landed a semi-regular gig as the opening act for the indie rock family band the Trachtenburg Family Sideshow Players, and unveiled a D.I.Y. CD-R release titled Slim Picken's in 1999. After several years of refining his songs and playing club dates, Langhorne struck a deal with the indie label Narnack Records, who brought out the six-song EP The Electric Love Letter. His first full-length album, When the Sun's Gone Down, followed in 2005. He hit the road in support, touring with his backing duo the War Eagles (Malachi DeLorenzo on drums and Paul DeFiglia on bass).
As word spread about Langhorne Slim, he was approached by V2 Records, which offered to sign the rising songwriter. V2 issued the four-song Engine EP in 2006, but after Langhorne began recording an album for the label, V2 was sold and he was dropped. The Brooklyn-based indie imprint Kemado Records stepped in to release 2008's Langhorne Slim. More touring followed, playing shows in the United States and Europe and appearing at the Newport Folk Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and Lollapalooza. A second album for Kemado, Be Set Free, followed in 2009. In 2010, Langhorne parted ways with the War Eagles and introduced a new backing band, the Law, featuring David Moore on guitar, banjo, and keyboards, Jeff Ratner on bass, and War Eagles holdover Malachi DeLorenzo on drums. His first album with the new group, The Way We Move, was issued by Ramseur Records in 2012. Praised by critics, the album rose to the Top Ten of the Folks Albums chart in the U.S., and the title track was used in the Tina Fey movie Admission.
Langhorne and the Law jumped to Dualtone Music for the 2015 album The Spirit Moves, which arrived as he had turned his back on a growing drinking problem. A concert set, Live at Grimey's, appeared a year later, and Langhorne pursued a rougher, more organic sound and introspective outlook for his next studio effort, 2017's Lost at Last, Vol. 1. Langhorne and his band once again toured heavily in support and made an appearance on Conan O'Brien's late-night talk show; it marked the third time O'Brien, an avowed fan, had featured him on his program. Langhorne's issues with addiction unfortunately returned, coming to a head as he ran out of tranquilizers during a European tour and was unable to find a doctor who would prescribe him more. As Langhorne worked to regain his health, he began blocking out plans for his next album and wrote a new set of songs between March and May 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic put the world on hold. Informed by his recent struggles as well as memories of his family, Strawberry Mansion (named for a neighborhood in Philadelphia where his Grandfather was born) was released by Dualtone in January 2021. ~ Mark Deming