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Johnny Flynn

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    Johnny Flynn

    A Larum ( 2008 )
    The Box / The Wrote & The Writ / Tickle Me Pink / Brown Trout Blues / Eyeless In Holloway / Shore To Shore / Cold Bread / Wayne Rooney / Leftovers / Sally / Hong Kong Cemetry / Tunnels / All The Dogs Are Lying Down / Shore To Shore - reprise

    Johnny Flynn is plainly a delight from the first few seconds you hear him. A fan of that finger-picking folk guitar style, albeit mixing things up across the album's entirity so the listener isn't bashed around the head with a single style. His lyrics tell stories without sounding in the slightest 'folk', rather than showcase a Syd Barrett like imagination, albeit one without drugs. Hopefully that means Johnny Flynn will make more than the one decent album, you know? I hope so, because 'A Larum' has been getting better ever time I hear it to plateux to what it is now, clearly one of the best albums of 2008. 'Tickle Me Pink' is a good example of all the Johnny Flynn styles. Well, the finger-picking is less in evidence here to be replaced by a vaguely hippy, loose psychedelic ( in a Gorky's Zygotic Mynci kind of way ) thing. The song, like many of Flynn's, is short, just under three minutes. Hurrah for economy! Album opener 'The Box' is a statement of intent. Again, it doesn't outstay its welcome, again the lyrics are superb and the finger-picking is a delight. Oh, something alarming to point out. Johnny Flynn is related to either Robson or Jerome, or Robson and Jerome infamy. Cue cheap 'Carry On' related Kenneth Williams joke.

    'Sally' is a song both with a girls name in the title as well as it having great, swishing instruments on it from fiddle to a country thing to vocals that sound solidly in the ground. More rhymes than an entire Kooks discography and another winner from Mr Flynn is born. 'Leftovers' is a pick of the bunch, stupendous lyrics about a bunch of leftover food stuffs. I especially like the chorus and the drums and the fiddle and the entire thing, basically. Even a song titled 'Wayne Rooney' manages to be a highlight, a haunting little melody and a vocal, 'i don't know better...' which makes you wish for a moment that all singer/songwriters were like Johnny Flynn. Humour, seriousness, top lyrics, little finger-picking, distinctive guitar melodies and what else? Isn't that enough? Check out this little gem, why are you still reading - go out and buy.

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    Readers Comments

    VT USA
    Couldn't agree with you more, been loving this album ever since I got it this past summer. I spent it studying abroad in London and I listened to this all the time, it was a nice little contrast to the metropolitan landscape I was in... Love the steel guitar ha

    Scott Larkin Hadfield, Derbyshire
    This is a mile ahead when it came to my album of 2008, it has been worn out with play. It a shame that talented artists like Johnny dont get the airplay they clearly deserve. Each song is beautiful, a star of the future if he keeps this up.

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    Been Listening 9 ( 2011 )
    Kentucky Pill / Lost and Found / Churlish May / Been Listening / Barnacled Ship / Sweet William Part 2 / The Water (feat. Laura Marling) / Howl / Agnes / Amazon Love / The Prizefighter and the Heiress

    Do we trust Johnny Flynn? He used to be an actor, he's not very ugly and he's mates with Laura Marling. Does it matter? Not one jot actually when he can pen songs as affecting as 'Amazon Love' or 'The Water'. If he can do that, I don't care if he actually turns out to be David Guest in disguise. If Johnny Flynn was American the entire alternative community in the United Kingdom would be falling over themselves to declare him a genius. If Bonnie Prince Billy were British, we'd all be falling over ourselves in a bid to ignore or patronise him. Such is life and such is the climate of 'who cares?' into which the London troubadour releases his second full-length album. Guys as good as this should be selling hundreds of thousands of records - not just thousands. Guys like this should be on the front cover of NME rather than The Klaxxons or Mumford and Sons.

    Anyhoo, all that out of the way we can happily report that 'Been Listening' is even better than 'A Larum' which is to say that 'Been Listening' is incredibly good indeed. Some of the songs are fleshed out instrumentally more so than the majority of 'A Larum' but Flynn loses none of his individuality in the process. The opening 'Kentucky Pill' for instance may or may not be designed to appeal to American ears but the key aspect to its success is the layered arrangements, the impeccable spaces between the instrumentation. Brass pops up here and there and you hardly even notice it, parping impeccably as it does to lend an extra texture. Brass, electric bass and drums decorate 'Churlish May', a tune which in the past Flynn may have just brushed with his acoustic guitar. Ah, that reminds me of another change this album out - the lyrical content is far less whimsical, more refined, yet still evocative - particularly of nature. The fiddle that sails through 'Barnacled Warship' is lovely but the chorus really hooks you in, clever, subtle and incredibly heart-warming. 'The Water' which is a duet between Johnny Flynn and Laura Marlin meanwhile is just stupendous in both writing and performance, a song anybody would be proud of and possibly the best single track i've heard this year, bar none. It's not rock n roll but not everything has to aim for that style. Johnny happily continues oblivious to passing trends. Long may he continue to do so.

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    this page last updated 9/1/11

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