Kindred spirits: Bright Eyes, the Avett Brothers
Show: With Ha Ha Tonka on Wednesday at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-388-7625. www.rockandrollhoteldc.com. $15.
Langhorne Slim’s slightly raspy voice sounds like the love child of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, evoking rootsy folk with a twinge of roadhouse blues. Born Sean Scolnick, Langhorne takes his stage name from the small Pennsylvania town where he grew up. Since 2005, the singer-songwriter, who studied at SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory of Music, has released four albums riffing on the old boy-meets-girl formula with stories of one-night stands, uneasy relationships and the simple joys of fleeting moments.
“The Way We Move” continues many of these themes but sets them to a jauntier beat. On the title track, Langhorne and his band, the Law, bang out freewheeling melodies carried by David Moore’s piano solos. “Bad Luck” is one of the most tightly constructed songs on the album with an addictive chord progression that frames the defiant lyrics: “Bad luck got in me, but I will survive.” Other gems include the whistle-driven melody of “Wild Soul” and the soulful ballad “Past Lives,” which closes the album and is led by Moore’s light touch on the keys.
Langhorne and the Law don’t necessarily tread new ground but rather make a convincing case for the lasting power of music that filters the best parts of Americana through a 21st-century sensibility. It doesn’t hurt that Langhorne has a knack for writing melodies that bury themselves deep in our minds where they find themselves at home.