Listen Up: Wednesday, September 15, 2004
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Langhorne Slim

Electric Love Letter (Narnack Records)

By Matthew Smith

One facet of the oft-heard rock-is-dead theory argues that everything’s been done and no new ground remains to be broken. All that’s left are the recycled sounds of yesteryear. The White Stripes, for example, are just ’60s big-beat with old blues tropes. The Hives? The MC5 as seen by five Swedes.

Which, for the most, is hard to disagree with. Maybe all we can do nowadays is grab good music where we can.

Langhorne Slim does the white-boy blues-and-rock thing pretty well, falling somewhere between Stones and the Stripes though actually not as good as either. The main culprit: his duck-on-helium voice. It just lacks that certain convincing blues bite.

But the sonics on his latest, Electric Love Letter, are a different story. The gospel tinge of “One Sunday Morning” nicely complements the shuffling zydeco beat of “Loretta Lee Jones,” and the rest is a slinky, unpolished backwoods trip through Memphis barbecue shacks and rickety back porches where drunks play guitars while stray cats and barefoot urchins lie about on the sun-baked dirt.

Yeah, yeah. A Robert Johnson record gives all that and more. Still, Slim’s pretty fly for a white guy. Vocal misgivings aside, he’s good enough to enjoy for now and even to make one mildly curious about his next move. That counts for something, right?



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