Frank O. Gutch Jr.
I don't know what I was expecting, but this ain't it. Actually, I do know what I was expecting. I was expecting an acoustic version of Too Slim & The Tail Draggers and boy am I glad I was disappointed. Guitarist Tim Langford, it appears, is more than just a one trick pony. Broken Halo is proof.
Not that I don't like blues. I love blues when I'm in the mood and I am in the mood more than not, but what I am always in the mood for is taste and Langford serves it up in huge portions here. The opening one-two punch of the Americana-ish La Llorona and Three Chordsmay have caught me by surprise, but those are the kinds of surprises I can live with. The guitar is clean and melodic and the tunes are impressive. Langford returns to his blues on Shaking a Cup, delving into a little light acoustic blues with, shall we say, a Tony Joe White bent. He goes whole hog blues next. You Hide It Well is Southern Blues personified right down to the slight Southern accent and acoustic slide guitar. Princeville Serenade is once again Americana sans blues, a light acoustic instrumental tiptoe through the tulips, followed by my present favorite track on the album, 40 Watt Bulb, areal Tony Joe White-style choogler (Don't ask me. I'm just hearing Tony Joe White today, I guess). Title track Broken Halo is an upbeat rock 'n' roller with a Mark Knopfler twist, the bass and drums bedrock for Langford's more-Southern-than-not voice and guitar. He swims in the deep end of the blues pool on North Dakota Girl, the R&B more 'B' than 'R', and returns to a Knopfler-style Southern rocker with Dollar Girl. More blues and slide acoustic with Long Tail Black Cat before capping the album off with the semi-talking Gracie, an excellent wrap-up.
Do I miss the Taildraggers? Not one whit. Don't get me wrong. I like the Taildraggers, but not as a steady diet. Like I said previously, I have to be in the mood. This is a nice offset for Langford or any other blues player who has visions beyond the blues. Stick with it and you are soon pigeonholed. Hear the new Langford? Nah, tired of the blues. Another potential fan thinks blues, regardless. Now, when you mix things up, especially a guy as talented as Langford, you avoid that. Here's the re-take. Hear the new Langford? No, any good? See? All it takes is a little variety to make the world your oyster.
This oyster, by the way, was recorded at Conrad Uno's Egg Studios in Seattle. I'm not sure if I ever met the guy, but many of my friends have and speak very highly of him and his work. Broken Halo, to me, reinforces that respect. The sound is super clean and the engineering masterful, which it really needs to be to make this music sound this good.
Broken Halo is a solid second effort for Langford. Next up, I'd like to see him really take some chances. Say, some three-man crunch a la Cream or maybe some psych a la Quicksilver. I mean, he has the blues down. Time to expand horizons, eh, Tim? I mean, you've done pretty well thus far. I'm just sayin'.....