Blue Heart (Underworld Records, June 2013)
"The first four bars of opening track “Wash My Hands,” announce the return of Too Slim and the Taildraggers with a muscular one, two, three punch of gritty guitar, snapping snare drum and thundering bass. Recorded in his new home of Nashville, Blue Heart is the follow-up to Shiver; the 2012 Blues Music Association nominated Blues Rock Album of the Year and his much lauded solo album Broken Halo. The eleven song collection produced by Tom Hambridge feature his skills on both sides of the glass, as he does great work in the drum chair and at the mixing desk, showing us exactly why he is in high demand. The other guest musicians include Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughn) on B3, Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie) vocals and harmonica, Rob McNelley (guitar), and Tommy MacDonald (bass). The nine new compositions from Langford show off his formidable songwriting skills alongside his already well known guitar work on this his twelfth studio album.
"Following on from last year's much acclaimed Shiver, Tim "Too Slim" Langford, master songwriter, guitarist, slide player, and singer is back. Look out, he is back big time with an album bursting at the seams with a who's who of the best Nashville has to offer. This album was produced by Tom Hambridge who has just collaborated with RB Stone on his latest offering Loosen Up!. Tim has drawn on the experience of Tom Hambridge (RB Stone, Buddy Guy, George Thorogood and Joe Louis Walker), and current and former members of Delbert McClinton's band for good measure.
- Peter Merrett, PBS 106.7, Melbourne, Australia
"(Tim Langford) might be a hard charging, guitar slinging, blues rocker, but he paid attention to the lyrical skills of the greats and learned his lessons well. With sharper lyrics that you would normally expect from a boogie band, everything about this cat cuts to the chase and cuts to the quick. You can bet guitar slinging fans will come for the licks but stay for the words. A killer high water mark (Blue Heart) in a career that normally feels like a mighty river."
- Chris Spector, Midwest Record
""Blue Heart" is the title track off of Too Slim and the Taildragger’s new record. Jimmy Hall’s voice and harp blowing is smooth and smoky in the same breathe. The blues is not a style of music, it’s an emotion, and these guys have that sentiment in their back pocket.
- Red Line Roots Music Blog
"Well you’ve been waiting for something new from Too Slim and the Taildraggers, and here it is! Blue Heart will rock your head off! After 11 studio and five live albums, Too Slim still delivers scorching, heart-felt blues and rock, for our more than appreciative ears. Fresh, new, and hardcore!
- Blue Barry, Smoky Mountain Blues Society
"B.B. King said “the blues is a feeling” and Tim “Too Slim” Langford has plumbed the deepest blue depths since 1986. Originally from Spokane, Washington, far from the cotton fields, he built a loyal international following on the strength of 11 studio, four live albums, and two solo albums.
Recently relocated to Nashville, the slashing slide and lead guitarist, ferocious singer and streetwise composer of exceptionally hard hitting lyrics, has out done even his most illustrious previous releases with the scorching Blue Heart.
Nine originals and two covers feature noted producer Tom Hambridge (drums, background vocals), Rob McNelley (guitar), Tommy MacDonald (bass), Reese Wynans (Hammond B-3 organ) and Jimmy Hall (lead vocal, harmonica). “Wash My Hands” roars with a pile-driving riff and keening slide.
Tim Langford combines his total command of the medium with unwavering dedication to his art. Blues this uninhibited, expressive and uplifting are a gift to be treasured and enjoyed for the sheer cathartic exuberance always on tap from a true modern master."
- Dave Rubin, 2005 KBA Winner in Journalism
"This is the release I have been waiting for. Just got it yesterday and have been blasting through the new home in South Carolina for every box, chair, guitar, and pot or pan. This is the music of life! Wonderful!"
- Chef Jimi Patricola, Blues 411
"If it is possible to be a natural-born guitarist, Langford fits the description."
- Rick Allen, Vintage Guitar Magazine
"Tim "Too Slim" Langford not only seems reinvigorated, but in 2011 has released one of the finest albums in his extensive catalog."
- Hal Horowitz, All Music Guide
"Too Slim (Tim Langford) is not only a master of slide guitar, But he's also a composer of the highest regard. He's penned 12 winners for his latest effort...A supremely talented performer and composer who ranks with the best that blues/rock has to offer."
- Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes
"One of the finest original Blues Rock trios performing today...A landmark effort (Shiver)."
- Brian Owens, Blues Review Magazine
"Having personally observed Too Slim's career progress over the last 16 years and 13 albums, I feel qualified to pronounce Shiver a Tim Langford masterpiece!"
- James Walker, Blues Blast Magazine
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'.....
David Hintz, Underworld Records; 2012
Tim Langford does the blues, but adds a lot of folk touches and changes arrangements around to keep things interesting at all times. The great touch displayed on slide guitar is showcased in the opening instrumental track. He then proceeds to show off his classic bluesy voice in many of the other songs. “Princeville Serenade” shows off more folk moves and is a great interlude among the bluesier songs. This is the second album I have heard from him and both were a pleasure to take in. The instrumental prowess of Langford and his band is what works for this record. It succeeds more for their touch and interpretation than their prowess, although the skills are there, too. This is worth a listen and will find a healthy sized audience. I am still there.
Charley Burch, The Blues Revue
If Tim “Too Slim” Langford only played slide, he would slither around most other blues guitarists and put a ferocious bite on their pride. However, as the sole six-string slinger, main songster, and lead singer of the power trio The Taildraggers, which he founded in 1986 in Seattle, Washington, he is a total force of nature. Leaving musical tracks for others to try and follow, with now 16 albums and countless gigs, he remains as untamed and menacing as ever. He and his band have created an eclectic style of blues and rock that has become a genre all its own. Too Slim‘s ever-evolving musical direction cannot be classified into any box or category. The eclectic nature of the band allows Too Slim and the Taildraggers to easily crossover and appeal to audiences of various musical tastes.
Too Slim’s last four studio releases have all charted in the top ten onBillboard Top Blues Album charts and Heat Seeker charts. Shiver was nominated by The Blues Foundation for Rock Blues Album of the Year in 2012. Too Slim and the Taildraggers have sold over 100,000 albums to date. Tim “Too Slim” Langford has received Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame awards by three blues societies in the northwest United States and Too Slim is the recipient of over 40 regional and national music awards.
Too Slim’s latest project, Broken Halo, is a multi-tracked solo project that should be on your list of albums to acquire.
The following is my interview with Too Slim, which transpired over the past month between touring in the United States and Europe.
Charley Burch for BluesWax: Is Broken Halo your first solo project release?
TS: Broken Halo is not my first solo release. Pint Store Blues was my first, in 1999. I also released a live CD called Goin’ Public in 2001, which was from a public radio show I did. I finally got around to doing a new solo project, which is Broken Halo, this year.
Nancy, who is my manager and wife, basically told me I had to do it. I was procrastinating for years about doing a solo album. The difference betweenPint Store Blues and Broken Halo is that Pint Store Blues was more of a tribute album to my influences. It was all covers; Broken Halo‘s songs are all original material.
BW: Are you using new musicians? How do you intend to tour these songs?
TS: I played all the instruments on Broken Halo. I had the songs in my head and heard them a certain way, so I guess it was easier to just lay them down that way. I wanted to keep the songs pretty simple. I’d love to do a tour playing these songs, but Too Slim and the Taildraggers have been pretty busy this year playing gigs.
BW: Where and how did you record? Did you record analog, digital, or synchronized?
TS: I recorded in Seattle at Egg Studios with a great fellow named Conrad Uno, at the same studio we did our last album, Shiver, which got a BMA nomination for “Rock Blues Album” of the year. Conrad was the founder of Popllama Records, which was a big part of the Seattle grunge scene. He is a wonderful guy to work with and has big ears. We just set up a couple of microphones and I would just play the songs through till I got a good take with the guitar and vocal. Then I would overdub what else I thought the song needed. We recorded Broken Halo all digital. Shiver was recorded on tape and dumped onto digital for mixing.
BW: What label and distributor are you releasing through?
TS: The album is on Underworld Records, which Nancy and I own, and is distributed through
Burnside Distribution Corporation worldwide.
BW: How long did this project take to write, track, mix, and start publicity campaign?
TS: The album actually came together very quickly. I had some tunes half written and once Nancy told me I was going to do it, I actually just sat down and got to it. I worked on the songs about a month and went in the studio and recorded it in five days and mixed for two. Then I got it mastered at Black Belt Mastering in Seattle. Most of the songs I got in one or two takes, then I did overdubs on some. The vocals and rhythm guitar are all live takes, except I harmonized with myself on the title cut. Nancy did the original artwork for the album cover and the graphic. Then we hired Betsie Brown with Blind Raccoon for the publicity. The CD released on June 20, 2012.
BW: What was your main inspiration for this project? What songs influenced the creation of Broken Halo?
TS: Nancy is the one that got me going on this project, she insisted that I do it and set up studio time, otherwise I would have waited till who knows when. I had been listening to a lot of John Hiatt, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, and oldNeil Young, along with the Muddy Waters, Son House, and Lightnin Hopkins. I guess the album is a reflection of that combination of influences.
The two instrumental songs, “La Llorona” and “Princeville Serenade,” just came to me pretty much as you hear them on the album. With “La Llorona,” the first track on the CD, I just grabbed the Dobro off the wall and tuned it to E minor and it just came out just like that. The same with “Princeville Serenade,” I bought a ukelele in Hawaii and that’s the first thing I played on it just trying to figure out my way around on it.
“40 Watt Bulb” is a true story from a gig we did last winter. Froze my ass off for a week! I wrote “Three Chords” in Hawaii, it’s a song about writing songs. “Gracie” is a story about my Grandma, I just had to get it out. It’s got a real country-folk element to it, I guess that is the country boy in me coming out. “Shakin’ a Cup” is about the homeless situation in Seattle. We live downtown and it’s a real social problem in Seattle. It makes me profoundly sad to see all of the homeless people. I’m sure it’s like that all over the country these days with this economy.
BW: Do you plan to continue with solo projects or is there a Taildragger album on the horizon?
TS: My goal is to do another Too Slim and the Taildraggers record next year, budget permitting. I suppose I’ll do another solo record someday. I’d spend all my time making records if I could. If I had my way I’d probably hole up in the studio and you’d never see me again! I do like playing live though. It’s fun to make a record and then figure out how to make the songs sound good live with a trio.
BW: Describe the Latin presence on this album.
TS: Nancy has been spending time in Mexico painting with Toller Cranston, so maybe that has influenced me. “La Llorona” is probably a result of that. I love Latin music and I think it’s crept in to some of my Too Slim and the Taildragger tunes through the years. It’s interesting to me that you asked me that question because I would not even have thought that there was a Latin presence? I certainly was not thinking about it. I really wanted to make an album like Neil Young’s Harvest. I end up with the blues stuff in there though, can’t get away from it!
BW: Moving to Nashvegas I hear? Tell us about that.
TS: Nancy and I are moving to Nashville October 1. The main reason is to get more centrally located for touring with Too Slim and the Taildraggers. Seattle is a very difficult place to tour from. I really want to play more dates east of the Mississippi. Nashville is one of the music capitals of the world and I’ve always thought my music had a strong southern influence. I have always gravitated to southern music, ever since I started playing guitar.
There are so many great musicians and songwriters in Nashville and I felt the need to surround myself in that environment. Nancy and I felt that we were also ready for a new adventure, so why not Nashville, it sounded like as good of a place as any! I’ve always wanted to live down south. My goal when I got out of high school, way back when, was to move to Memphis and play the blues. I guess life just got in the way, but better late than never!
BW: Do you handle your own publishing or are you interested in partnering with an established publishing company?
TS: I do handle my own publishing, but I am very interested in expanding the publishing possibilities. I am hoping to learn more about that part of the business. I would love to have other artists record my songs. I’m sure every songwriter feels that way. Interesting that you ask, as I just had a conversation with someone from Seattle who works in Nashville all of the time wanting to help me with publishing!
BW: Describe the genre or genres that you incorporated into this album and what are your near-future expectations?
TS: I love all genre’s of American roots music. I try to mix it all together all the time. There is a songwriter element to Broken Halo and I really want to work on becoming a better songwriter. I have no expectations other than trying to be a better musician and be the best person I can be all the time. I just hope people like what I do and and want to come see me perform, and that’s about it in a nutshell for me.
Free Your Mind (Underworld Records) is the 10th studio release from Too Slim and the Taildraggers. Front man Tim Langford (AKA “Too Slim”) has been doing this for a couple of decades now, building a devoted fan base, branching out from their home area in Seattle and having shared the stage over the years with the likes of Bo Diddley, Brian Setzer, Otis Rush, Robert Cray, Johnny Lang, Los Lobos, Lonnie Mack, Travis Tritt, Ted Nugent, Delbert McClinton, and a score of other big names. The band has won multiple awards in various Northwest readers’ polls, and has been recognized as best regional act by the Cascade Blues Association 11 times.
Langford wrote all of the tunes on Free Your Mind. “When You Love Somebody” is a love song with Skynyrd overtones, and “Last Train” was written after Langford read the newspaper one morning, with lines taken from actual headlines that day. “Devil In A Doublewide” would have been a southern rock classic back in the day. The title cut has great slide guitar and lyrics and some solid advice. “Testament” is a dark song with Langford begging for strength and endurance, and “Been Thru Hell” is about having the resolve to make it through the tough times.
The moody “Peace With The Maker” covers a deal with the devil and its repercussions. If more of us took the advice offered in “Bottle It Up” (keeping our traps shut), we’d be the better for it (more great slide work from Langford). “Throw Me A Rope” is a modern take on the “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” theme, and “This Phone” is a humorous song about being “lovesick and lonesome” and sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring (Yeah, we’ve all done it). The closing track, “The Light,” is a gospel tune, featuring a memorable vocal turn from Lauren Evans.
Langford is one of the better guitarists you’ll hear and dazzles with his highly original fretwork. He gets excellent support from the Taildraggers (Dave Nordstrom – bass, Rudy Simone – drums). Todd Smallwood produced the disc along with Langford, and plays Hammond B3 and 12-string guitar.
Simply put, if you have any sort of interest in blues, rock, roots, or Americana, you have to pick up Free Your Mind. You can thank me later.
Frank Kocher, Turbula
A blues-rock trio that includes full-page ads for a barbeque sauce and a textile artisan in their album booklet can't be all bad. Together since 1986, Too Slim and the Taildraggers have released numerous albums, including 2007's "The Fortune Teller," and are back with "Free Your Mind." Their sound features the vocals and guitar work of Tim "Too Slim" Langford, and doesn't try for anything beyond familiar hard rock with good lead guitar breaks and sharp slide playing. The use of an occasional Hammond organ and female backup singers gives a taste of the Black Crowes, but this is mostly power trio music in the mold of Gov't Mule.
Spokane native Langford has an amiable vocal presence and is a smooth pro on the fretboard. His "Last Train" is a funny observational bit about world affairs; he's riding the last train and Hunter S. Thompson is the engineer. "Devil in a Devilwide" follows with heavy riffs behind grumbled vocals about a mojo mama with evil intentions. The disc's title track follows, and is also good – though it has nearly identical structure and is in the same key as "Devil" and somehow ended up sequenced right after it. Langford goes for a lengthy guitar opus on the slower "Testament," and it is clear that he is an admirer of Neil Young, because the solos on this cut mirror those on "Cowgirl in the Sand," as does the melody. "Peace With Your Maker" is another slower tune that features superb guitar work, while "This Phone" rocks harder. The album closer is "The Light," a gospel-blues sung by guest vocalist Lauren Evans. This sounds like a cut from a different disc, the vocal is superb and the arrangement lush, including tasty fills by Langford.
This is an experienced, road-tested band that realizes that Langford's Les Paul is the big draw, and the disc is a series of showcases for him to shine. The music is a good time, nothing extraordinary, but it rocks and has some hooks. What's not to like?
Nine Bullets Review: The Fortune Teller
Too Slim and the Taildraggers recently released their 14th album, Fortune Teller. Despite numerous best-of awards and hall of fame inductions from three Blues societies, this was my first encounter with them. There seems to be a lot of Internet chatter about these guys in the blues genre. Personally, I don't hear it on Fortune Teller. Fortune Teller is a straight forward rock and roll record that mingles seamlessly between southern, swamp rock, Americana, and even a slight calypso-ish sound in Mexico. In the CD booklet Too Slim says that the making of this CD was a very difficult process. You certainly can not tell that from listening to the album. Fortune Teller is a great 'sitting on the front porch with some friends drinking whiskey' album, and I say that having test driven it on just such an occasion. This CD will appeal to fans of Skynyrd, The Drive-By Truckers, and electric blues acts such as the North Mississippi All-stars. I really look forward to diving deeper into Too Slim's more bluesy back catalogue and you can look for them to be featured on Nine Bullets more in the future. A quick note about the title track, Fortune Teller. Apparently it is based on a true story about Too Slim having a strange encounter - with a real fortune teller named Yogi, in a town square in Oslo, Norway, who seemed to know too much of Too Slim's past and present for comfort. Turns out he was equally accurate in the future area as well. Says Tim Langford, 'it was quite unnerving. My conversations with Yogi led to some serious life changing decisions for me. I know it sounds like I am making this up, but I promise you, it really happened.' --Nine Bullets
Most Helpful Customer Reviews - AMAZON
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
They Just Keep Getting Better October 23, 2007
By Sea Viewer
I've had the pleasure of seeing these guys live on several occassions over the past decade. Tim and the crew put on a very good show. They are true musicians who really enjoy what they do. I bought this album from Tim himself at Jazz Bones in Tacoma last December. From the first cut to the last this disc is excellent.Buy it now...you won't be disapointed!
5.0 out of 5 stars
too slim, too good October 27, 2012
By Peter Johnston
Format:Audio CD|Amazon Verified Purchase
each new cd just gets better and better. great sounds and some brilliant new tracks. getting quite a collection of too slim and the gang, they really know how to pump out a great sound
5.0 out of 5 stars
Maybe Their Best. January 11, 2012
Format:Audio CD|Amazon Verified Purchase
With albums like "Free Your Mind" and "The Fortune Teller," the transformation of Too Slim & The Taildraggers is complete. "Too Slim" Tim started out as a deep, dirty barroom blues kind of guy, but now he's penning straight-forward, upbeat rock and roll masterpieces. Just try the first two tracks, "The Fortune Teller" and "Cowboy Boot". These rank up there with all of the best classic rock radio hits that have gone out over the airwaves in the last few decades. Okay, so they're not a blues band any more. They're a damn good band, and that's all that matters. Get this album, and "Free Your Mind" too!
Too Slim and the Taildraggers: Free Your Mind - 5 stars
Can't fault that for a name can you? FREE YOUR MIND is by all accounts Too Slim- aka Tim Landfords eleventh album and it certainly packs a punch. Released on his own Underworld Records, it is a collection of foot stomping, hard driving blues interspersed with the occasional slower number. For those who like their blues to really rock, then Too Slim's the man for you, the raspy delivery blending perfectly with a massive smoking guitar sound. This is a man of passion and talent who has been compared to some of the big names from John Mellencamp and Joe Walsh through to Lynard Skynard. Testament with its layers of haunting guitar work is hypnotic and seemingly influenced by the pain of the extremely harsh winter Seattle suffered this year. Last Train was virtually lifted from a copy of the Seattle Times and details the irony of the days news stories with wit and poetry. The track contains the classic fatalistic line: 'feel like im riding on the last train/ and Hunter S. Thompson is the engineer!" Free Your Self exhorts you to: 'Pour Yourself a cold one' and try everything before you get old.' The excellent Throw Me a Rope muses wistfully on just who might do that, when the chips are down and features and uplifting middle guitar solo. Classically, the best is saved for last when guest vocalist, Lauren Evans sings the gorgeous gospel tinged track The Light, which simply sends shivers down the spine. It's mean, it's raggedy, it's real, it's the blue with attitude.