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It isn’t out of the ordinary to hear my peers describe their music taste as “anything but country.” That disdain for country branches into a lot of Americana and folk as well-- in fact, sometimes it feels as if millennial city folks hear a brassy guitar and shiver. Perhaps it stems from a fear of ‘hick-ness,’ and whatever lack of smarts and unfiltered honesty that are attributed to it. Or, maybe it’s because banjo and vocal twang are just not on-trend in a world where pop and hip-hop dominate the charts. Whatever the case, I know immediate disdain reverberated through my whole being the first time I looked up ‘folk-americana’ artist Langhorne Slim. That is, until I gave Lost at Last Vol. 1 single “Life is Confusing” a listen, and decided he was worth a chance.

It’s Langhorne Slim’s brilliant songwriting that sets him apart, and this poeticism spills out vibrantly on stage. He babbles in short, eccentric (or, perhaps, drunken) monologues between songs, but not aimlessly -- artfully tying together quaint anecdotes with short one-liners which, after a moment of translation, settle like bits of a hipster gospel. The transitions between telling us about “shvitzing” at San Francisco’s Kabuki Spa to sermons about coming together with love and passion that should “pour out into the street” are executed gracefully, and after thirty minutes of group singing and laughing and IPA-drinking the audience is entirely at ease. It’s brilliant, really, and exactly the calm that’s needed in the heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

This same emotional transparency comes off in his vocal delivery. While displaying the ease expected of a prolific touring artist (NPR even described him as a “hard-touring workhorse”) his performance is less carefully choreographed than his pop-rock counterparts. Rather, he is a deliberate storyteller, his tale-telling monologues slipping into song effortlessly. At times, he even stands to the side of his microphone so as to sing with no technical filtering, or ventures into the audience for a chorus or two. The resulting warmth is that of a family gathering--the juxtaposition between mother and adult son next to a pair of young, adorable newlyweds in the crowd not seeming at all unusual.

 It’s only in this atmosphere that an artist can reach such a moment of teary-eyed intimacy in a song about his childhood “best friend,” his grandfather. Singing “as the earth stood still, Sid began to move...Oh tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone” Slim commands the audience to be silent for a moment, bringing tears to the eyes of many patrons. This moment was by far a highlight, and not even an expected one--Langhorne Slim’s cinematic storytelling manages to change a listener’s emotions at a moment’s notice. Great American Music Hall’s carefully curated intimacy accented the delicacies of these moments, with it’s small, un-barricaded stage only hovering a few feet above the crowd. Thus, even as a staunchly Americana-adversed critic, Langhorne Slim managed to strike in me an emotional chord.

Veronica Irwin (Hunnypot Editor at Large)

Twitter: @vronirwin / Instagram: @veronicairwin

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