This is what happens when you let your friends stick around. The War Eagles, drummer Malachi DeLorenzo and upright bass player Paul Defiglia, actually kept up with Langhorne Slim quite well on stage for two records’ worth of tours, building upon his country-punk energy, comprising a great team. But Slim’s third LP, produced as a busy piece of pop by Chris Funk, is burdened with unnecessary layers and is miles from his live show, which – while appealing to the tamer indie set – really hurts him.

Sam Kassirer, who played a heavy role in the recording of Slim’s previous record, is now his pianist, adding a painful dream sequence quality to the already-sappy “I Love You, But Goodbye,” while Defiglia’s replacement on bass, Jeff Ratner, is literally impossible to spot anywhere on the record.

Slim’s duet with Erika Wennerstrom (Heartless Bastards) on “Leaving My Love” works well, though the production process has given too much volume to DeLorenzo’s drumming – he’s fantastic but his part is a bore here – and experiments with strings in a way that worked for Jon Brion and Fiona Apple but competes with and overpowers Slim.

Really, the best songs here, the title track and “Back to the Wild,” are those fitting for previous Langhorne Slim records; it’s unfortunate that this album, which will likely launch him, while much deserved, is less representative of the artist than the producer.

Grade: B-



Be Set Free is currently available.