Be Set Free

Album Review of Be Set Free by Langhorne Slim.

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Be Set Free

Langhorne Slim

Be Set Free by Langhorne Slim

Release Date: Sep 29, 2009
Record label: Kemado
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative, Folk

70 Music Critic Score
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Be Set Free - Fairly Good, Based on 5 Critics

AllMusic - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

Langhorne Slim started out as a solo act before he worked his way up to a pair of accompanists, but it would seem he's gotten over the whole notion of minimal accompaniment on his third full-length album, Be Set Free. Produced by Chris Funk of the Decemberists, Be Set Free features Langhorne and his usual sidekicks Jeff Ratner on bass and Malachi DeLorenzo on drums, but there's also a wealth of guest musicians, most notably Sam Kassirer on a variety of keyboards, Funk taking on a handful of fretted instruments, and a small battalion of backing vocalists, horn players, and string musicians. Be Set Free sounds significantly more polished than Langhorne's previous studio sessions, with the arrangements and additional accompanists bringing a range of dynamics to the melodies that wasn't quite there before (certainly not on this scale), but even though this album sounds like Cinemascope compared to the more modest framings of Langhorne's previous LPs, the additional colors and patterns have been artfully applied and they serve to add to the tenor of his tunes rather than distracting from them; if this album was conceived on a (relatively) grand scale, it's never overdone.

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PopMatters - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

When everyman minstrel Langhorne Slim opens his third album of folk-pop, Be Set Free,, with a line about a morbid identity crisis, it’s more of a misleading lyrical gesture than a statement of mid-career crisis. “I don’t wanna die, but I don’t yet know where I belong”, Slim sings on “Back to the Wild”, the shimmering opener to an album that actually finds Slim right where he belongs: crooning, yelping, and shouting his way through infectiously catchy folk-romps. If there’s an identity crisis going on here, it sure doesn’t show in the music, which features some of Slim’s most self-assured compositions to date.

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Drowned In Sound - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

The Guardian has called Langhorne Slim 'one of the greatest live acts [they] have ever seen.' Listening to the Pennsylvianian-born, New York anti-folker's Be Set Free, re-released from last year at the end of a decade of releases, you get a sense of why. For the last ten years, Langhorne Slim has been a respected name to those with their ear on the ground. A recurring feature of the New York gig scene, he's made consistently adept country-folk in an semi-modern US vein, and influenced artists on both sides of the pond including London's Johnny Flynn.

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Paste Magazine
Their review was positive

A Folky FeastBy Kate Kiefer Slim PickinsBy Andy WhitmanLanghorne Slim’s shtick—the ramblin’ folkie troubadour, with accompanying nasal yelp and requisite weather-beaten cap—is a tough act to sell. You’re only competing with Woody Guthrie and the young Bob Dylan. The songs had better be good. On his third full album, Slim adds some pop sheen to the expected folkie raggedness, but Woody can rest easy, and Bob doesn’t need to think twice.

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Paste Magazine
Their review was highly critical

A Folky FeastBy Kate Kiefer Slim PickinsBy Andy WhitmanLanghorne Slim’s shtick—the ramblin’ folkie troubadour, with accompanying nasal yelp and requisite weather-beaten cap—is a tough act to sell. You’re only competing with Woody Guthrie and the young Bob Dylan. The songs had better be good. On his third full album, Slim adds some pop sheen to the expected folkie raggedness, but Woody can rest easy, and Bob doesn’t need to think twice.

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