Langhorne Slim Reflects on a Shitty Year with Beautifully Frank ‘Strawberry Mansion’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Obviously 2020 was a devastatingly tough year for many of us, but Philly-native Langhorne Slim – now a resident of Nashville – had more than his share of anguish last year. 

Already struggling with diagnosed anxiety and depression, at the end of 2019 he was fighting to overcome prescription drug addiction. In March 2020, a powerful tornado ripped through his East Nashville neighborhood. Just weeks later the global COVID pandemic forced the world into home isolation. Under that bleak backdrop, Slim set about – on a friend’s advice – writing a song a day. The result is the mammoth 19-track Strawberry Mansion (a nod to the Philly neighborhood near where he grew up). 

What’s most surprising about this deeply personal album is just how optimistic it manages to come across. The opening track, “Mighty Soul,” references both the devastating tornado and the pandemic – “Someday the world might come and blow your house down/First a tornado then a plague/Let us use our hands to help and hold/Let us pour love into the Mighty Soul.” No one would begrudge Slim a double flip off, “fuck you, world!” rager after the year he had, but he opts for a solidly optimistic take on his circumstances. And right there is the obvious charm of Strawberry Mansion. Over 45 minutes, he doesn’t skirt any of the hard topics, tackling his mental state on a song like “Panic Attack,” his childhood nostalgia on the title track and the isolation most of the world felt during the past 12 months (“Lonesome Time”). The record does have a very stream of conscious feel to it that, given the subject matter, comes across as natural; even relatable.

The album ends with the stripped down, guitar and vocals only track “For The Children” demo. The song is smart, catchy and a to-the-point address to the next generation warning about greed and materialism that perfectly caps off this beautifully frank collection of songs. Slim weathered a tough storm over the past year and rather than wallow in self-pity he’s chosen to focus on the good, but as “For The Children” shows, he’s also not afraid to pass along a warning or two for those still waiting in line.   

Photo credit: Harvey Robinson

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