The Norman Transcript

September 13, 2013

Music review: Too Slim and the Taildraggers is down and dirty blues

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — by Doug Hill

Musician: Too Slim and the Taildraggers

Album name: Blue Heart (2013, Underworld Records)

Why you should listen: Tim Langford aka Too Slim is closing in on three decades as a professional slide guitar slinger and blues vocalist. A native of Washington State, he’s now based in Nashville and this latest release was recorded there in Bonnie’s Place with producer Tom Hambridge.

The Taildraggers touring band is bassist Scott Esbeck and drummer Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes. Their show schedule this summer ranged from mellow outdoor festivals to live music-hungry joints in Pray, Mont., and Moscow, Idaho. Langford’s songs sound like sound track for shady saloons the world over. Lyrics are about brown liquor, “bad cocaine” and women who are “…a hundred and fifteen pounds of attitude.”

Langford’s slide guitar has the magic ability to conjure seven miles of bad county road lined with meth trailers, fried catfish shacks and Craigslist dates. It’s not by chance that track number one is titled “Wash My Hands” but the psyche can’t be as easily laundered as body parts. “Doing my best to come clean/ but the dirty old devil left a stain on me,” Langford sings in his emotional drawl.

There’s a down and dirty vibe to much of this music that tracks right along with gutbucket blues history. It’s an unflinching genre that Langford flogs like a mule. Track 10 titled “Preacher” has a nasty-good slide guitar that owes more to the serpent’s slither than uplifting scripture. Unsurprisingly the holy man is a backslider. “Make it Sound Happy” is a lose-the-blues tune that recalls the best of blues rockers including J. Geils Band and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Langford’s in his element with a paint-peeling electric guitar solo and elegantly measured vocals. The album’s cover art features three stylized tarot cards depicting The Fool, The High Priestess and The Magician. Langford would be the later.