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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 14 June 2010
Well I got this a week ago now and I know it's a cliche to say "it hasn't come off my CD player yet" but that's pretty much true. It really is something special this.

I bought 'A Larum' last year and thought it fabulous so the usual trepidations surfaced approaching this follow-up. But I needn't have worried. This is such a good effort. It really is. If you haven't come across Johnny Flynn before it might be helpful to know he's intrinsically part of the London scene labelled by some as 'nu-folk' which also includes Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale. Much as I like Mumford & Sons album and really love Laura Marling's second album I have to say I reckon this to be the best that 'set' of artists has come up with yet. It really is that good.

The opener was the one trailed publicly before release. Having listened to the rest of the album numerous times now, I can't think why. Though 'Kentucky Pill' is a good track it is by far not the best thing on this album. Any of 'Lost and Found', 'Churlish May', 'Howl', 'Been Listening', 'Prizefighter', 'Amazon Love' or most especially 'The Water' are a huge step up.... Anyway, the opener's good without being a winner but what follows is just sublime. 'Lost and Found' is where Johnny Flynn comes closest to Nick Drake on this album - something I can always hear in him, if not explicitly then underneath. Great song that sets the album up wonderfully. 'Churlish may' has some wonderful mournful brass that could have come straight from the climax of 'The Wicker Man' - if you've seen the original film you'll know what I'm on about, the brass played on the MayDay march to the beach... Wonderful stuff again. 'Been Listening' adds a bit of blues to the album and it is a great track. But it is with track 7 that this album is lifted into something that will last a long, long time. 'The Water' is a duet between Flynn and Laura Marling and it is songwriting at its best. Listen to the bonus 'alternative version' of this on the second CD. It's sung by Sofia Larrson and her voice changes the song entirely, it's a folky ethereal version of Delibes' 'Flower Duet' to my ear. Reminds me of a band called Smoke Fairies I had the pleasure of putting on live in Birmingham a year ago (if you haven't come across them give them a listen - you'll like!). Brilliant song and the second CD is worth it for that alone. 'Amazon Love' returns to the beautiful vocals of 'The Water' where Flynn is aided by Lillie Flynn. Again this is wonderful. The closer is the longish ballad 'The Prizefighter and the Heiress' which seems to be a song in two halves. Fabulous ending to the album.

But the album is more than just Johnny Flynn. He seems to have assembled a great band of musicians (The Sussex Wit) to back him up and cowrite. If there was any justice this would sell millions. As stated above - it really SHOULD be Mercury Prize nominated if anything is. Really this is something that will be listened to years from now. (10/10)
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Johnny Flynn meant nothing to me until I clicked an Amazon review of his last album "A Larum" to read various reviews from what appear to be normally sane people making humongous claims for this man's talent not least of all that he is "better than Nick Drake". This a big statement indeed and one which remains a tad premature if truth be told, since while Flynn is good, he is not that good. Indeed the comparision is an odd one since Flynn owes as much to great musicians like Richard Thompson and deeper folk tradition.

This is evident again on his new album "Been Listening" where Flynn does ooze promise by the bucket load and with his band the Sussex Wit he forms part of that movement which travels on the vehicle of "Nu Folk" which is taking British music by storm. The presence of Laura Marling one of the vanguard of this genre on this album who has regularly performed with Flynn demonstrates the mutual respect amongst its leading lights and we can but marvel at the collective weight of young talent emerging in this tightly knit field of minstrels.

Another Amazon reviewer from across the pond Mr Peter Reeve ably described Flynn as "very much part of the current British Folk scene, albeit South African by birth, Flynn is a 25-year old actor, poet and songwriter. His voice is expressive rather than melodic. He may not quite hit the notes, but he feels them" A splendid description and one which holds equally true on Johnny Flynn's new double album "Been listening" a very fine and solid album "sardine packed" with great songs and fascinating demo's.

What are the highlights? Well the opener "Kentucky Pill" is a joyous confection of horns and what sounds like on occasions a miniature Jamaican steel drum band(?). It is fine start and is followed swiftly by one of the outstanding pinnacles of the album which is "Churlish May" a hybrid mixture of folk and pop which has brilliant backing by the band and a dry as dust vocal by Flynn which at the same time could not be bettered by any of his contemporaries. "The Water" has the word centrepiece pasted all over it and is a duet with Laura Marling. It is a tender and old fashioned acoustic ballad which sounds utterly timeless. "Amazon love" is a traditional folk lament which I have no doubt should be dedicated to our favourite web site, while "Agnes" is an uptempo and rocking folk anthem with real echoes of Richard Thompson. Finally the "Prizefighter and the heiress" will see grown men turn to one side in fear of mockery as a tear gently rolls down their cheek, until it picks up half way through into a more hard edged beast with a feel of the "old West" about it. True, there are some songs on here which I can only describe as "samey" and I am not sure yet if any of these quite match "Brown trout blues" and "The Box" from "A Larum", but only repeated listens will fully answer this question and I am fully up for that! Overall "Been listening" does mark a real progression and on the songs highlighted in this review and others across the LP it is a hugely confident sophomore album from Flynn and co. More than this it highlights an artist who grows in stature by the minute and someone who we should be listening to with an intensity.
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on 26 January 2016
Highly recommend if you like Fairport Convention, BobDylan, Bugg....etc
Will add to this review after a few more listens but I can say it is rockier than A Larum but full of good things I want to go back to listen to.

Will be back
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on 13 June 2010
Johnny Flynn always releases his albums with the option of good old vinyl. And, unlike a lot of music with an eye on the mp3 market, this work hangs together beautifully as a coherent whole - something that hasn't happened in British music since the Smiths were in their pomp.

No one else could write a song like The Water, it leaves (friendly) contenders like Mumford and Marling for dead. Every other track is a gem too, but 'Lost and Found' is, maybe, the best yet and should have been the title track.

If this lp doesn't win the Mercury prize, the Turner prize and the World Cup - there's no justice.
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on 11 May 2016
I can only agree with lots of the other reviews here. This is a brilliant, brilliant album. I am obsessed with it, and urge anyone to listen to Johnny playing The Water with Laura Marling on Youtube. I hope that he decides that, however good he is at acting, he is better at this! While I think it is worth the absurd price for which it is currently selling, I would much rather see it re-released and sold for much less so that more people get to hear it.
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on 15 March 2011
Earthy, honest stuff, with an edginess that makes it less sacharrin sweet than some of the current London folk fare. Gives it more longevity on the playlist.
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on 2 July 2010
I noted the release of this with a degree of interest, having enjoyed his debut A Larum. The double disc duly popped through my letter box, and I subsequently deposited it on my car seat to follow my normal ritual of giving new purchases their baptism while driving. Standard practice of 1-2 listens then back inside the house has been obliterated - this album has been on repeat since purchased. It is simply outstanding, a real step forward from debut. Each and every track stands up to scrutiny. Yes, he rubs shoulders with fellow young, scruffy and very English artists like Laura Marling, Noah & The Whale, The Leisure Society et al. The common theme? They are all magical, and Johnny Flynn sits proudly atop the pile with this fabulous release.
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on 26 January 2015
The lad loves it
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on 8 August 2012
A fantastic album and loads better than the drivel found in the charts (of which I have had no interest since I was a teenager many many years ago!) This is one of the best albums I have ever bought and I just can't get Johnny's songs out of my head!
great music stripped down to the core and played with good old fashioned honesty, a rare thing these days!
Good one Johnny, keep it up.
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on 31 January 2015
Brilliant album by a really great musician
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