Langhore Slim's Be Set Free has broken the glass ceiling reaching beyond the novelty beloved by fans to a wider audience. This is one side of Langhorne Slim. It is the studio side. Langhorne Slim is an incredibly raw live band. Be Set Free, produced by Chris Funk (The Decemberists) changes it up, adding variety with new instrumental treatments. I would call it Langhorne Slim smooth but not lite.
Slim's songwriting and vocals are so versatile that they cross various genres. Be Set Free combines soul, folk, and symphonic rock with heart-stopping vocals that reach for the rafters. A cast of talented contributors plays a slew of instruments, piano, organ, brass, and strings.
The songs are simple and basic, like a conversation spiced with little truisms. It is Slim's vocal delivery that adds emphasis to broadening interpretation. There are many great catchy melodies, raucous Honky Tonk, and heart-tugging solid ballads.
Starting with the upbeat opener, “Back to the Wild,” with its smooth strumming, a flurry of strings, and steady shuffle percussion. Followed by “Say Yes,” an optimistic take on love and possibilities.
“Be Set Free” is a ballad of significance with jewel-like slide guitar and expressive piano. The soft shaker is the heartbeat for “I Love You But Goodbye,” blending gorgeous cascading piano with Slim’s fervent vocals. Starting as a mild tempo and escalating to a full soulful throttle of impassioned intonation, “For a Little While” blends timing contrasts. It peaks when Malachi DeLorenzo's slow shuffle drumming evolves into a hardcore exuberance mixed with the exhilarating mayhem of mashed-up ingredients. “Cinderella” flirts with the listener, offering a soulful wink with the help of Honky Tonk swing and an enthusiastic boy chorus.
The sumptuous "Leaving My Love" uses symphonic swells interspersed with lovely vocal dialogue between Slim and Erica Wennerstrom (Heartless Bastards) The chorus of / I can't believe it / I'm leaving my love / intensifies like romantic longings. In the tradition of country confessionals, "So Glad I'm Coming Home" offers sincerity about going home in a sobered state and hoping to be welcomed back.
The album closes with "Boots Boy," an upbeat love affirmation, / I don't want just anybody / I want you / nobody but you /. Be Set Free is sweet and sultry and naturally uplifts the spirit, A high worth getting.