Top positive review
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stunning second album from Johnny Flynn
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)