When The Sun's Gone Down
lt.country has always consisted of two things: bad music and nostalgia for a past that never existed. Those from the blue states decide to berate their redder brethren for "giving up on their customs" by listening to, I dunno, Brooks and Dunn or something. Except everyone knows full well that these customs don't exist, never did exist, outside of episodes of Bonanza and adverts for tinned chilli beans. Thus, the Campaign for Real Country aren't revolutionaries of the devolutionary, but rather the indie equivalent of elasticated-waistbanded American tourists coming to London and complaining that there aren't any children getting stuck up chimneys and dying of consumption for them to take photos of.
Langhorne Slim, despite being a loft-dwelling Brooklynite who obviously wants to go back to Dixie, manages to avoid it. It could be because what he's aiming for isn't a straight country jack: it's some country/blues/heartbreak malarkey that, in lesser indie hands, could sound like someone has watched too much Ghost World. Or it could be because Slim makes music that rollocks and rolls out, like the Violent Femmes did before they got laid and discovered Jesus, or how the White Stripes would if Jack wasn't a twat.
Plotline for every song here: narrator’s heart is broken so he goes and gets drunk, lather, rinse, repeat. It's something we can all relate to though, so why not? "In The Moonlight" starts off with the same kind of arpeggio chords I come up with on the guitar before I remember I can't play, before Langhorne's emobilly hiccuping vocals come in, they falter around for a bit, and then we're into a mild sing-along. An entertaining enough night in a polite roadside tavern, spent with songs that actually have hooks, catchy bits, and lines that stick in the mind long after you've realised that they're nothing but nice rhymes that don't really mean anything.
The end effect is really of a support act somehow winning over the 30 people who turned up for the gig too early. For a singer-songwriter he just doesn't have the personality to run the rule of an album property, but he does have some pretty songs. It works best when he can let his vulnerability work for him, on stuff like the title track where he wishes vehicular homicide on those taking an interest in his love life, or "Loretta Lee Jones," where he overcomes that trying-far-too-hard title to create something of emotional power. As it stands though, we're looking at a man getting lost in his own (great) songs.
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2005-11-09