Langhorne Slim is a streetwalking troubadour, trailed by his faithful backing War Eagles; a folk-singing vagabond, unwinding faithless tales over shuffling Americana. Born Sean Scolnick, Slim knew early on that he was destined for the bright lights. The only question was whether they'd be footlights or guard-tower spotlights.
"I was going to either wind up in jail or be some kind of entertainer," Slim says, laughing. "I didn't know that I was going to be a musician until my mom fixed up a guitar we had in the house and it just sort of stuck."
The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players took Slim under their wing early on, exposing him to a wider audience by inviting him along for several tours. After putting out an EP and a 2005 full-length debut, When the Sun's Gone Down, Slim and the War Eagles scored a deal with V2 Records in 2006, releasing the rambunctious, ramshackle country-folk Engine EP before the label eventually folded. "Thankfully for us, our [full-length] album hadn't dropped yet," Slim says. "It was supposed to come out in a couple months. Then we got the call to come get the masters."
It took another year, but the eponymous album came out on Kemado in April. It's a broad step forward. The production is crisper and lean, while the band's rollicking sound seems to dip and sway even closer to the ground. Slim's vocals are also much improved, sounding less nasal as the lyrics slalom down mournful melodies and bustling bluegrass-tinged bounce.
Langhorne Slim with Those Darlins, Haley Bonar. 10 p.m. Sat., Oct. 4. Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $13. 412-431-3950 or www.clubcafelive.com.