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Johnny Flynn - Time to seek out new pastures
on 30 September 2013
Johnny Flynn's name is one that seems forever linked to the rise of nu folk and the ubiquitous success of the all conquering Mumford and Sons now on "indefinite hiatus" and suffering a overtly vicious backlash. The latter are big lads and can look after themselves but Flynn has always deserved better. He is more in a traditional folk bracket owing debts to Martin Carthy and Richard Thompson, plus tapping into deeper English traditions. Not that this has stopped the inevitable sniping about his work with NME describing "Country Mile" his album number three "as rootsy as the Chelsea Flower Show". This judgement is way to harsh and while some of the lyrics on this new album are sometimes contrived there is some very lovely music contained herein. "The Lady is risen" is a nice horn infused song with a great Flynn vocal and base elementary power. Equally the title track is nearer to rock music than folk and powers along nicely. Unfortunately Flynn does overplay his rustic credentials. Thus "Murmuration" starts with the line "The grass is long in the valley my love and there we will go to lie" and doesn't get much better. Its one of those songs that conjures up images of a finger in the ear and too much warm beer, while a another track like "Einstein's idea" is just plain dull. Much better is the slow but gorgeous ballad "Time unremembered" a sad lament with the albums best lyrical content and the snappy jazz feel of "Fol-de-Rol".
All in all this album is good in parts but what it is does lack is the sheer exuberance and fun of his brilliant debut "A Larum". While we cannot expect Flynn to constantly recycle songs like "The wrote & the writ" and "Tickle me pink" the current set on this album leaves a nagging doubt that music which was once as fresh as a daisy is starting to sound a bit tired. There no doubt that Flynn has talent to spare but perhaps after three albums which have stayed close to the same formula now is time for a rethink and change of direction.