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The album 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. It 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.
Freewheeling but purposeful; celebratory but confessional; looking to light even when it’s dark: The Spirit Moves delights in contradiction. 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. The song is no mere reflection, but a manifestation of unbridled joy. “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. “A lot of my music is celebration of light,” he says. “It’s a horrible thing to shield our hearts and not be vulnerable.” “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. Career-standout “Airplane” is a poignant example of Langhore’s unique ability to capture the redemptive hope in desperation.
“By opening myself, I’m vulnerable and I’m fearful, but I start to get real. And in that realness, there is immense strength that I wish for everybody,” Langhorne says. “Maybe everybody’s scared to be a freak. But when you live as a freak––” he laughs––“it’s so much more fulfilling.”
A magnetic performer, he spits sparse lyrics in a signature caustic rasp while his band invokes a rock and roll parade. The New Yorker"
A magnetic performer, he spits sparse lyrics in a signature caustic rasp while his band invokes a rock and roll parade.