Fans of Langhorne Slim may already know this, but do not worry if you plan to see him November 11 at the Aggie in Fort Collins, the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs a day later or at any stop on his current, nationwide tour: he isn’t the brooding artist you may hear on Strawberry Mansion.
The album came out last year, after he first released Side-A of the sprawling 22-track collection in 2020. Strawberry Mansion was the result of a burst of creativity that emerged from the pandemic and after winning a battle with clinical anxiety and prescription drug abuse. He’s still happy to talk about that time and his never-ending struggles, and he remains honored to share his experience with mental health organizations. But sometimes he has to remind people that those are things he’s dealt with his whole life. They do not necessarily define him.
“I’m also having fun too,” Slim said with a laugh in a phone interview with BandWagon. “It’s not beating me every day.”
In fact, in many ways, that time he spent in recovery was a real breakthrough, a time when he began to heal for perhaps the first time in his life. It makes him thankful for the pandemic, in a weird way, because it forced him to take a hard look at his troubles.
“For the first time ever, I was finding some semblance of stillness,” Slim said. “I wasn’t running from myself because I wasn’t able to.”
At the suggestion of a friend, he began writing one new song each day. Slim wasn’t hot on the song-a-day idea at first, but he was trapped in his house due to the pandemic and was out of rehab (though still recovering) so what else was he supposed to do? He tried the exercise and was pleasantly surprised at how the songs kept “showing up.” He suspects this approach helped quiet his raging anxiety, along with assisting his recovery in general.
“They weren’t written to make a record,” Slim said of these songs. “There was no pressure. They were just songs to sing in my living room.”
Even so, a lot of tunes from that batch did make it on the album, and as a result, it’s his most personal record to date.
“It captured this period of time in my life,” he said, “and it seemed like putting them out as one expression was the way to go. I feel like I’ve always written pretty damn personally, but nothing to this extent.”
The record is quiet and folky, recorded in just a few stripped-down sessions; a production choice that reflected the time and the pandemic as well as the songs themselves.
“That’s just a result of how they were coming to me,” he said of the tunes, “and the whispers I was hearing in my soul urging me to keep it simple.”
Some records should be complicated, he said, and he believes his next album could very well wind up that way. Regarding his creative process leading up to his next release, the songs aren’t “showing up” in the same way they did for what would become Strawberry Mansion. And though they’ll surely appear, he doesn’t think they will come that fast again.
“I get anxious and fearful anytime the songs aren’t pouring out,” he said, “but it takes a trust of the natural flow of the thing.”
Right now, after all, he’s focused on touring. He’ll hit stages from Vancouver to Key West and Pennsylvania to Texas before the year is through, which is a surprisingly welcome return-to-form for Slim. Touring was, for many months during the shutdown and the chaotic time that followed, something he simply didn’t want to do, even though, of course, he often couldn’t. But now he’s enjoying it. He realizes how much he missed it. It makes him happy to be on the road and he’s having a lot of fun.
“I’ve been able to play my ass off, and that’s been amazing,” he said. “I really didn’t miss it for a long time. But now that I’m back out, it feels like I’m home again.”
BandWagon Presents Langhorne Slim on Wednesday, November 9 at Mesa Theater in Grand Junction and Saturday, November 12 at The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs. Tickets at BandWagMag.com (full Langhorne Slim tour dates at langhorneslimmusic.com).