If folk music’s prime currency is authenticity, Langhorne Slim might well earn some crooked eyebrows. Classically trained at the SUNY-Purchase conservatory, Sean Scolnik donned loafers and floppy hat and named himself after his hometown in the tradition of all those rail-hoppin’ ramblers who used to do that. The blogosphere gobbled up this aesthetic and and have cast Slim in the role of Guthrie–Dylan inheritor he came dressed to play.
Really, Slim doesn’t make music like that at all. His music is much more poptimistic, with an evangelical energy that has led some critics to call his music religious (and not in the way Bob Dylan equated Woody Guthrie’s music with religion). Slim’s lyrics lunge, albeit passionately, with a blade that is shinier than it is sharp. Cat Stevens, with his spiritual conceit, is an apter analog—or the Avett Brothers, with whom Slim has toured.
The irony, of course, is that once Langhorne Slim is amputated from the Guthrie-Dylan continuum the question of authenticity ceases to pose a problem, and we can appreciate Scolnik for what he is: An upbeat kid with a folk-gospel bent who makes dynamic, non-threatening, thoroughly enjoyable pop music.
Langhorne Slim plays tonight at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hotel with Dawes, left-coast country rock act whom Rolling Stone last week certified as “breaking,” and who occasionally go Steinbeck all over their blog. Doors at 8 p.m.; $12-$14.