Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Johnny Flynn -- A Larum

Time to bump up the Johnny Flynn album A Larum again. I know nobody's heard it, but it's absolutely one of the best albums I've heard this year.

And he may be coming to a city near you:

Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit
2008 U.S. Tour Dates w/ Laura Marling

Date City, State Venue

9/13/08 Allston, MA ICC Church
9/15/08 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
9/17/08 Philadelphia, PA Side Chapel at First Unitarian Church
9/18/08 Alexandria, VA Birchmere
9/20/08 Chicago, IL The Bottom Lounge
9/23/08 Englewood, CO The Falcon
9/26/08 Los Angeles, CA The Hotel Café
9/28/08 San Francisco, CA Café Du Nord
9/30/08 Portland, OR Lola’s
10/1/08 Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern

Nothing between the east coast and Chicago. Do people actually live there?

Nevertheless, Johnny's debut is the best raw folkie album I've heard this year, and anybody who knows me knows that "raw folkie" is pretty close to heaven in my musical universe. It's loose, energetic, melodic, and that reference to "Sussex Wit" is no mistake. Johnny's lyrics are consistently sharp and biting. Witness what he does with a bunch of East End London down and outers, complete with obscure Bob Dylan reference. It's got that Jolly Olde England folk swagger, a la Martin Carthy, with a bit of Pogues Celtic punk mayhem mixed in, and it's a beautiful song:

Shore to shore, got some land between
Island life is living from a cup of broken queens
Hit the jackpot rolling through a pipe dream in a knot
And I'm missing what was pissing up the wall that I forgot
I forgot, I forgot

I am the masked rider, give me some grace
You've never seen me and you don't know my face
She was no Hattie Carroll, it was cold, it was blue
And it only happened despite me or you
Me or you, me or you

Smoking paper to the crimson flashing bars
Drinking cocktail wine or cottage cream and passing strangers' cars
Live in one-room housing, with a roof to meet the sky
Spelling Jesus won't you please us 'cos you seem a damn nice guy
Damn nice guy, damn nice guy

We listened to passengers stamping old songs
And we lose, what's to lose, when you haven't done wrong
Drums too slow for a funeral beat
No strumming of strings and no stamping of feet
Of feet, of feet

It's awfully considerate of you to think of me
And it's not so hard to see you smoking fags and drinking tea
It's the crummy lost at seasick with a floating on the waves
To join the other flotsam with the ripped up queens and knaves
Queens and knaves, queens and knaves

There lies a lady, she's gone and she's gone
She'll be a fine lady before too long
But I hit her head and she finished her walking
She shouldn't be dead, she was too busy talking
Busy talking, busy talking

They can fill a cup or two and still disturb the peace
It's never made it all the way from shore to shore, from west to east
I read that independence was a lightness in your step
You walked away, I felt so heavy at the start of every day
Every day, every day

I've been waiting an hour and the bus hasn't come
I've been cursing my god for the lack of the sun
I've been ruined by destiny, lowered by fate
And the upshot of this is I'm going to be late
To be late, to be late
-- Johnny Flynn, "Shore to Shore"

Go see him if he comes within a couple hundred miles of your home. Chicago's about 300 miles away for me. I'll miss him this time around, this time around, this time around.


Ben McFarland said...

Thanks for the tip -- after checking out his Myspace music page, I think I'll be at the Tractor Oct. 1!

Anonymous said...

hey andy:

good call on johnny flynn and on this tour. laura marling is good too (saw her at maxwells in hoboken a while ago) and mumford and sons are great and could be REALLY great.

hope all is well


Anonymous said...

Just heard "All the Dogs Are Lying Down" on Pandora and fell in love immediately. Amazon here I come....

Thanks for the recommendation. I love finding songs this good.